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I. French Furniture in the Middle 

Ages and under Louis XIII 
II. French Furniture under Louis XIV 

III. French Furniture under Louis XV 

IV. French Furniture underLouis XVI 

AND the Empire 


{Previously published) 

I. English Furniture under the 
TuDORs AND Stuarts 

II. English Furniture of the Queen 
Anne Period 

III. English Furniture of the Chippen- 
dale Period 

IV. English Furniture of the Sheraton 

Each volume profusely illustrated with 

full-page reproductions and 

coloured frontispieces 

Crown Svo, Cloth, price 4s. 6d, net 

X.ARGE Arm-chair covered in Wool Velvet 

(End of the Louis XIV style) 




Translated by 





Printed in Great Britain 


The Louis XIV style is one that chance has en- 
dowed with a splendid name, Louis Ouatorze. 
. . . Those sonorous, sumptuous syllables, as 
rich as the gold of the Gallery of Mirrors at 
Versailles, are they not in themselves completely 
expressive ? If the Louis XV style was to ex- 
press a whole society of voluptuous refinement, 
the Louis XIV style is verily the style of the 
King. It was to satisfy his taste, to express 
his mind, to titillate his pride and to proclaim 
his glory that Le Brun and Le Pautre devised 
their pompous decorations, that Perrault and 
Mansard marshalled their columns and raised 
their cupolas, that Le Nostre planted his alleys 
on lines meted out by stretched cords, that the 
Kellers founded bronze, that Domenico Cucci 
and Claude Ballin chased precious metals, that 
Andre-Charles BouUe cunningly wedded brass 
and tortoise shell with ebony in the Louvre, 
and at the Gobelins the lapidaries matched the 
stones of Florence, the cabinet-makers put 
together their ingenious cabinets, the silver- 
smiths made tables and pots for orange trees out 
of solid silver, the tapestry workers wove their 
enormous hangings stitch by stitch, while at 


Tourlaville the glass workers made mirrors 
larger and clearer than those of Venice. 

Whole volumes might be written on the 
Louis XV and Louis XVI styles without even a 
mention of the princes whose names they bear, 
but this would be quite impossible with the 
style we are about to discuss in this little book. 
Although he had not, whatever that sharp- 
tongued Saint Simon may say, *' a mind rather 
below the average," Louis the Great was quite 
ordinary in intelligence and was furthermore 
extremely ignorant, two defects that he redeemed 
in the exercise of his vocation as king by dint of 
good will, application, and hard work; he was 
not, as we would say, much of an artist — and he 
clearly proved this on the day when, in order to 
remedy the distressed state of his finances, he 
decided with equal absurdity and magnanimity 
to melt down all his prodigious store of plate, 
whose bullion value was nothing in comparison 
with its artistic value, while he kept his diamonds 
— but he insisted on deciding everything, and 
always made some alteration in the designs 
submitted to him. He had of course his own 
personal taste, which Colbert consulted and 
which Le Brun, who shared it, contrived to 
impose upon the artists of every kind who 
worked under his absolute domination. What 
was specially dear to this super-man^ who, as 
Mile, de Scudery says, " when playing billiards 
retained the demeanour befitting the master of 
the world," was majesty and grandeur allied 


with sumptuousness ; and also symmetry and 
regularity ; qualities which, as we shall see, are 
the fundamental characteristics of the style to 
which he has given his name. 

The best artists and craftsmen, then, worked 
to the orders of the King, who continually 
needed new furniture for his royal mansions 
of the Louvre, Saint-Germain, Fontainebleau, 
Marly; they worked for the princes of the 
blood, for the Ministers of State. This engrossed 
all, or nearly all, their output ; they were taken 
away from their guilds and brigaded at the 
Gobelins or the Louvre, where they were sub- 
jected to a rigid discipline. The great nobles, 
the wealthy financiers, the high magistrates, 
imitated the Court according to their means, 
but were obliged to fall back upon second rank 
purveyors and on less precious materials. Their 
furniture is none the less in the same style 
as that made for the King, all blazing with 

If we come down one degree lower, and try to 
make acquaintance with the homes of the well- 
to-do bourgeoisie or gentlemen with good broad 
lands, as they are disclosed in the inventories 
made after their owners' death and in the reports 
on the affixing of seals on property, which 
inventories have been preserved in great numbers 
and in some cases published, and are the most 
authentic sources of information on this subject, 
do we always find furniture of the Louis XIV 
style ? We come too often on tables or arm- 


chairs h piliers tors or a colonnes torses to feel 
quite certain of it. In reality the joiners 
continued generally to make for what was called 
"/a noblesse dtstzn^uee,^ people in miHtary or 
civil employment, rich traders, propertied middle 
class folk," plain undisguised Louis XIII furni- 
ture, even down to the time when the suppler 
shapes of the Regency and the Louis XV period 
were imposed upon them. Better still, in more 
than one region, but especially in Guienne and 
in Gascony, they continued throughout the 
whole of the eighteenth century to make, along- 
side of the great Louis XV linen cupboards with 
S-shaped pediment, the cupboards with four 
doors with panels decorated with " diamond 
points," known as " cabinets " in those provinces.' 

One or two of these inventories, which convey 
so rich an impression of vivid reality, will allow 
us to penetrate into the homes of this middle 
class of the seventeenth century. 

Shall we first of all enter the house of Messire 
Jean de Layat, former Treasurer-General of the 
King's Household ? This is in the rue de Clery, 
close to the Porte Saint-Denis, which is still all 
white, for we are in the year 1686. M. de 
Layat is wealthy : a year ago he sold his office 

1 Intermediate between the hatite noblesse and the coun try- 
squires, who were often very poor. 

2 We must not, however, exaggerate : many cupboards whose 
simplicity shows that they were meant for middle class use have 
also, as we shall see in the second part of this volume, the two 
doors, the straight cornice, the plain panels, and other character- 
istics besides, that belong undoubtedly to the Louis XIV style 
and the same may be said of several types of seats. 


for a high price, and he possesses somewhere 
around 400,000 livres, or about two million 
francs in present-day money. And yet, perhaps a 
trifle mean, or exceedingly prudent, he has only 
an establishment very far below his condition. His 
house is small, inconvenient, comprising very few 
rooms arranged in the old-fashioned way. 

In the stables we have two horses " with long 
tails " ; in the coach-house a carosse coupe with 
six plate glass windows " in the Venetian style " : 
a modest equipage. On the ground floor are 
M. de Layat's cabinet and the lower hall. In 
the cabinet the Treasurer-General used to receive 
callers on business, seated in an arm-chair covered 
with green cloth before his walnut bureau with 
five drawers. Upon the bureau was a writing 
desk of painted wood ; for the visitors there were 
seven chairs with twisted legs covered in plain 
moquette; adorning the chimney-piece six 
alabaster figures, some porcelain cups and some 
large shells, as fashion demanded. Ranged along 
the foot of the wall stand the books : no great 
reader is M. de Layat, for there are just seventy- 
nine all told, five of them folios, and most of 
them pious works. No hangings. All this is 
very modest : M. de Layat would not like any- 
one seeing his furniture to imagine that he has 
made a big fortune in the King's service ; and 
it would distress him exceedingly that we should 
know that this chest in the corner is a strong 
box in which there lie many a bag of louis, of 
pistoles, gold crowns and Spanish doubloons. 


In the lower hall adjoining we see the first 
hint of the dining-room that will not come into 
general use for a score of years, for it is furnished 
with an oval table made of deal, on folding legs, 
with its green serge cover and six beechwood 
chairs with twisted uprights, covered with 
moquette and stuffed with flock. 

Let us now go upstairs. As we cross the 
antechamber we see between walls hung with a 
German tapestry containing human figures, two 
tables covered with Turkey carpet, four chairs 
covered with tulip-patterned moquette, and we 
guess that M. and Mme. de Layat are fond of a 
game of three-handed ombre in the chimney 
corner with some old friend ; for here is a 
triangular card-table covered with green serge 
standing on its twisted walnut pillars. Let us 
lift the imitation {cafart *) ^ damask door curtain 
lined with green linen and pass into the ''petite 
chambre." Here is where the owners of the 
house sleep, in "two little beds, very plain," so 
plain that the inventory does not describe them. 
On the wall there is a mirror in a black frame. 
The table, walnut with ebony filleting, is 
accompanied by two round tables for candle- 
sticks or girandoles; two arm-chairs are covered 
with flowered velvet, four others are of carved 
walnut ; a cabinet, which contains Mme. de 
Layat's jewels, her knick-knacks, her lace, and a 
few curiosities, is a rather elegant piece ; it is 
" marquetry in pewter, ebony and tortoise-shell, 

I The asterisk refers to the index at the end of the volume. 


and composed of two guichets ^ and nine 

A " passage serving as a vestibule " brings us to 
the state-room. Hung v^th Flemish verdure 
tapestry with small figures, it is furnished with 
five arm-chairs and five ordinary chairs; four 
paintings on canvas were not considered worthy 
of having the subjects or the artists mentioned. 

This state-room is the salon, and also, when 
friends have been invited, the dining-room ; but 
no one sleeps in it, except perhaps, on occasion, 
some distinguished guest. The bed is the first 
thing to draw our eyes : immense, beplumed, 
overladen with draperies, it is a couche a has 
piliers^ an " angel " bed ; it has bonnes graces* 
and cantonnieres* and four large curtains of 
pink damask with big white flowers ; the pentes * 
of the tester, the great bed end and the curving 
end (fhantourne)* the three pieces of the 
valance {soubassement)* the counterpane, are 
all white satin, embroidered here " with several 
different designs in gold and silk," and there 
" with silk twist." No fringes, a plain 7nolet * of 
imitation gold. The tester is crowned with four 
knobs covered with damask and satin, adorned 
with tufts of white ostrich feathers. If we pull 
back the counterpane we shall find a coverlet 
made of alternate squares of China satin and 
chintz. We need not be surprised to see in the 
house of these old people a bed with such delicate 

I A very small cupboard with two doors, surrounded with 


and tender colouring : it is the custom of the 

A handsome oval table in the new fashion is 
made of red Languedoc marble, edged with 
black marble, and set on its base with six columns 
of carved wood, painted azure and relieved with 
gilding ; two gilded round tables match with it. 
The sofa of carved wood painted cedar colour is 
equipped with a mattress and two bolsters of 
striped brocade ; a valance with silk fringe falls 
to the very floor ; the same brocade covers the six 
arm-chairs " of lacquered wood, azure " that are 
ranged, three to the right, three to the left, on 
each side of the bed. A small chair contents 
itself with a modest dress of moquette. 

The walls display three large tapestries from 
Auvergne ^ with figures. Near the bed there is a 
wooden crucifix on a background of black velvet 
with a gilded frame, and a mirror with its frame 
of plate glass with plaques, corners, capital and 
other ornaments of gilt brass, both hanging by 
gold cords. Besides these there are a portrait 
of the King, painted on canvas after M. Mignard; 
a Faintly of Darius on canvas ''after the print 
by M. Le Brun " ; and again, set on its console- 
table, a chiming clock "made by a Paris 
workman," with its case of marquetry on tortoise- 
shell, decorated with brass pilasters and vases. 
Lastly, the chimney-piece boasts a set of 
ornaments displayed on miniature consoles : two 
vases made of ostrich eggs mounted in silver, 

I Aubusson or Felletin. 


two others made of cocoanuts on silver feet, 
three large shells of mother of pearl, and eighteen 
little cups of Chinese porcelain. 

Now let us visit old M. Nicolas Boileau, one 
of the Forty of the Academic Frangaise. He is 
the most home-keeping of men: born in the 
court of the Palais, at the foot of the Sainte 
Chapelle, he is now, at three score and ten, 
living, as he will die, in the shadow of the 
cathedral, " the Notre Dame cloisters." We 
are prone to imagine this crusty bachelor, who 
never was anyone's lover but the Muses', breath- 
ing the dust of his aged folios in profound 
disdain of all the refinements and elegancies of 
life. How far from the truth ! The smartest 
men in society delight to frequent his company ; 
in old days he used to have the Dukes de Vivonne 
and de Vitry to supper ; even now he has for 
visitors the greatest swells at court, the Marquis 
de Termes or M. de Ponchartrain the younger, 
the secretary of state for naval affairs. Without 
being very rich, this bourgeois among bourgeois 
has ample means, and we know the scorn and 
contempt he flings at poets less well off than 
himself. In his presses he has plate to the value 
of five thousand livres and more ; in his stable 
" two black coated mares, with tail, mane and 
ears undocked, of eight years or thereabouts," 
who draw him to his house at Auteuil in " a 
carosse coupe, with braces and springs, and three 
plate glass windows, lined within with slate 
coloured cloth, the outside with an edging of 


aurora coloured silk fringe, with cushion and 
curtains." His house in reality is as well 
furnished and equipped as that of the very M. 
de Layat who not so long ago, as Treasurer of 
the King's household, regulated the quarterly 
payment of the pension the poet received from 
his Majesty. 

The antechamber is very plain, though the 
walls are adorned with six high narrow lengths 
of tapestry in " verdure d'Auvergne," repre- 
senting animals ; but his own chamber is of an 
"exquisite niceness." This is hung with white 
and crimson damask, in wide alternate stripes, 
there is a portiere of the same, while the window, 
as is customary, has only a curtain of white linen. 
A crystal chandelier hangs in the middle of the 
room, four girandoles on mirror plaques complete 
the lighting : a large handsome mirror in its 
" border " also of mirror glass, with a capital, 
and a little pier-glass with gilded frame, help to 
brighten the room. This Despreaux is a strange 
person, a real original character : he has an 
exceedingly handsome bed, and all to sleep in 
himself! Indeed there isn't another bed in his 
house, except the modest pallets of his servants. 
This bed is a four-poster, made of walnut, and 
its curtains, tester and head are silver moire and 
green damask embroidered with gold flowers, in 
stripes; the cantonnieres^ bonnes graces, pentes 
and the four knobs are crimson velvet edged 
with gold galoon ; other large light curtains 
covering the first are of crimson taffeta ; the 


counterpane is silver moire with a wide border 
of green damask, embroidered with flowers in 
silk and gold. A very gay room is this, with all 
these silks of dazzling hues : in these days there 
is no shrinking from setting complementary 
colours side by side. Two armchairs, five 
ordinary chairs and a stool are of walnut wood 
and crimson velvet, a small sofa and two arm- 
chairs of gilded wood are covered in brocade 
embroidered with flowers in silver. Of the 
three tables one, and three gueridons as well, is 
of marquetry in coloured woods, the second is 
walnut parcel gilt, the last is a writing table of 
wild cherry. In the fireplace there are great 
fire dogs with brass knobs. Lastly, the chiming 
clock in its case of brass and tortoise-shell 
marquetry is a very handsome piece, it will figure 
by itself in the inventory, after its owner's death, 
at a sum equal to that set down for all the chairs 
together, as much as the plate glass mirror, 
which is assessed at half the value of the bed. 

Opening out of his own chamber the '* Law- 
giver of Parnassus " has three rooms or cabinets. 
The one in which he works has walls of painted 
wainscoting. In front of his bureau, made of 
walnut veneer, equipped with numerous drawers, 
is the black morocco arm-chair in which the old 
poet sits, snugly wrapped about with an 
^' Armenian robe of scarlet cloth, with gold 
button-holes, lined with skins." The other seats, 
an arm-chair and an ordinary chair of turned 
wood, and two carved chairs, are covered in 


tapestry of " Turkish " * stitch. An oak table is 
hidden by a cover of green cloth, and carries 
two little Chinese coffers or caskets made of 
wood. The books marshal their tawny gilded 
backs on eight shelves made of deal and edged 
with green cloth ; in front of the fireplace is a 
screen filled with green damask, on the walls, on 
their brackets, two busts of bronzed plaster 
(doubtless Aristotle and Horace ?), a chiming 
clock in its marquetry case, not so valuable as 
that in the bed-chamber, and another little clock, 
"an alarm with weights and cords." Here is a 
gentleman whose hours are well governed ! The 
mantelpiece carries on its shelf and its little 
brackets the inevitable set of ornaments ; forty- 
five pieces of Chinese porcelain, bottles, cups, 
saucers and other things, two lions on their delft 
feet, four ''pieces of painted earthenware" and 
four little brass busts. 

The second cabinet is less severe. It has two 
windows, and is hung with white and flame- 
coloured damask ; it contains the greater part of 
the books, in three low " bookcase " cupboards 
with two doors adorned with a trellis of brass 
wire : one of these is a handsome piece, in mar- 
quetry of brass on ebony, the others are plainer, 
made of cedar and of walnut. These are pieces 
of furniture greatly in fashion, quite recently 
invented : for all his great age Despreaux can be 
no enemy to novelties. Like all his contem- 
poraries, from bishops to kings, his eyes gladly 
find diversion in the fantastic works of the Far 


East. Here is a cabinet of Chinese lacquer with 
Httle drawers, and porcelain everywhere : sixteen 
pieces on the chimney-piece mingled with ten 
pieces of " fayance d'Hollande." ^ A braizier^ 
of well-polished copper stands on its iron base, 
and there is an oak table covered with a Turkey 
carpet and carrying a brass spy-glass, various 
coffers and writing desks. The seats are of 
many-coloured tapestry in Turkey stitch, and 
there is a mirror framed in gilt wood. The 
windows have double curtains, one of white 
linen, the other of cherry-coloured damask lined 
with taffeta. Here also there are fine warm 
colours everywhere. 

Finally, in the last cabinet, with no fireplace, 
whose walls are covered with a commonplace 
Bergamo 3 tapestry with big stripes laden with 
flowers, a walnut cupboard in two parts with 
four doors, turned chairs covered with Bruges 
satin,* a walnut table with a serge cover bordered 
with flame-coloured damask, a coffer of leather 
studded with nails ; a mirror with frame and top 
of walnut and with copper plaques ; and lastly, a 
wash-basin and salver of faience, both handsome 
and rare pieces, for they will be set down at 
thirty livres, a considerable sum at the moment 
we are considering. The cupboard in this 
cabinet will be valued merely at ten livres. 

Let us add, throughout these five rooms, forty- 

1 Of Delft. 

2 Brasero. 

3 Coarse, common tapestry, originally imported from 
Bergamo, but then made at Rouen. 


two pictures on canvas and on wooden panels, 
of which we have, unluckily, no details, but 
which are mainly landscapes. Such was the 
simple, but snug and, on the whole, elegant fur- 
niture of a celebrated writer in 17 lo. 

Now we shall betake ourselves, in the slow, 
picturesque way that Mme. de Sevigne will de- 
scribe later, to the borders of Brittany and Maine, 
and by the help of some '' time machine " carry 
ourselves fifty years backwards ; and here we are 
at the Chateau de Vitre, the home of the Due 
de la Tremoille. We shall not follow at every 
step the official charged with the duty of making 
an inventory of the furniture, for the mansion, 
which is one of the big seats of the province, 
contains more than eighty halls, chambers, 
cabinets and clothes-closets or wardrobes. Here 
the furnishing has some claim to pomp and 
splendour ; in Paris it would perhaps bring a 
pitying smile to the faces of smart society, but 
at Vitre it is truly princely. 

The important apartments are the ** great 
chamber of Monseigneur," the ''great chamber 
of Madame," and the "little chamber of 
Madame." The first two are of imposing 
dimensions, and Monseigneur's is hung with a 
high-warp tapestry with figures, the Story of 
Jonah^ and embellished with two pictures of 
religious subjects. A large Turkey ^ carpet covers 
the middle of the paved floor ; the bed is all in 

I In the seventeenth century this name was given indis- 
criminately to all Oriental carpets. 


crimson damask and taifeta ; the seats (two arm- 
chairs, two without arms, and six folding stools) 
and the screen display the same damask, a small 
day-bed is in blue damask. Two folding screens, 
each of six " doors," of red serge with gilt nails, 
struggle as best they can against the draughts ; 
two candlestick-carrying round tables are of 
wood, painted blue, with gilding. The two 
tables are oak, and very plain. 

Madame's great chamber is much like Mon- 
seigneur's : tapestry hangings in nine sections, 
eight of which represent fountains and land- 
scapes, and the ninth the labours of Hercules ; 
a Turkey carpet on the floor ; a great bed of 
crimson damask and velvet ; two chairs with 
arms, a small arm-chair,^ four chairs without arms 
and six folding stools in the same velvet ; two 
bench seats, their wood painted red, and with 
loose covers of a serge of the same colour. Here 
there are three tables, one of which is ebony with 
four pillar legs ; two gueridons or candle-holders 
are painted the colour of ebony. A large ebony 
cabinet opens with two ''v^dndows" and two 
'• layettes," as drawers are still called. The 
mirror is framed in ebony and hung on red silk 
cords. In the huge funnelled fireplace there are 
great fire-dogs w th brass knobs. It is not, we 
must confess, a very feminine room : we are still 

I What is the difference between a chaise a bras and z.fatitcuil f 
About 1660 the fauteuil is a seat with arms and a low back, as in 
the time of Louis XIII, and doubtless dating from that time, 
while the chaise a bras has a high back. Presently all chairs 
with arms will be called arm-chairs. 


very close to the somewhat sullen austerity of 
the Louis XIII style. 

Madame's little chamber, the one she really 
lives in, is more engagingly attractive. Its 
hangings are a fresh brocatelle v^rith a blue ground 
and fawn-coloured flowers " with white edges " ; 
the draperies of the bed are white velvet with 
little blue checks, lined with white taffeta, and 
with gold and silver fringes ; four chairs and six 
folding stools are of the same velvet, and there is 
a large chair with arms mounted on wheels for 
hours when Madame is ailing. The satin screen 
shows the same colours as the hangings, fawn- 
coloured flowers on a blue ground, two tall 
blue screens with six leaves allow an intimate 
corner to be arranged for reading, embroidery, 
or gossip with the ladies of Vitre, Mile, du Plessis, 
that funny Mile, de Kerbone and that comical 
Mile, de Kerquoison, whom roguish Mme. de 
Sevigne^ calls Kerborgne and Croque-Oison, or 
even at times the amiable Marquise herself. 

The chamber is not very small, for it contains 
three tables besides, one of which is " folded in 
triangle shape," and a large coffer of red leather, 
decorated with gilt nails. 

In the other rooms, the " cabinet aux devises 
de Madame,''^ the cabinet of Monseigneur's 
portraits, the " cabinet of M. Le Blancq, Mon- 
seigneur's secretary," there are some pieces of 
furniture that deserve a glance ; a mirror framed 

I Her chateau des Rochers is a league and a half from Vitr6 ; 
and she even has a house in Vitr6 itself, the " Tour de Vitr6." 


in ebony and seven silver plaques ; a " semi- 
circular seat serving as a day-bed, covered in 
green mocade* with its head-piece in the same 
mocade^^'* which is assuredly nothing else than, 
sixty years before its time, the " gondola " chaise- 
longue of the following century ; many painted 
pieces, a green table, a red cupboard, a green 
cupboard, a little dresser of painted wood with 
yellow mouldings, a straw chair, the wooden part 
of which is green. Lastly, in the " new cham- 
ber," the emmeublement* of mourning: the 
bed of black velvet, damask and taffeta, which is 
brought into one or other of the great chambers 
when a death in the family calls for /^draping" 
as a sign of grief. 

Let us take another journey across space and 
time. We are now in 1 701, in Languedoc, in 
the Chateau de Brisis, which belongs to the 
Vicomte d'Herail de Brisis, who has just died. 
He was one of those small country squires that 
make up almost the whole mass of the French 
nobihty and are the solid backbone of the King's 
armies. It often happens that they are poorer • 
than many a farmer, and that they are driven to v-/ 
sell their last patch of land and become labourers 
or vine dressers in others' service — simple villeins. 
The Herails de Brisis are far from such extremity ; 
they represent pretty fairly the average pro- 
vincial gentlefolk. And they are not mere 
bucolic gentry, for one room in the mansion is 
entitled '^the chamber in which the gentlemen 
of the house pursue their studies." 


Maitre Joseph Delacroix, doctor of law, lawyer 
and commissary deputed by the Seneschal of 
Nimes, makes out the inventory of the deceased 
man's property. He finds in the kitchen cup- 
board — M. d'Herail had no other dining-room — 
some small pieces of silver : a ewer with its basin, 
six forks, six spoons, two small salt cellars and 
two candlesticks. But the stable is not too well 
equipped : one black horse and an old one-eyed 
mule. Of the twelve rooms of the dwelling 
house the hall, the small hall, the chambers and 
cabinets, two only are equipped with hangings, 
one with old hergame^ the other with ligature ; ^ 
the seven beds are draped merely with serge, red 
or green or yellow, or sealing wax colour; the 
seats are comparatively numerous, as is always 
the case in these country homes : there are over 
a hundred, but not an arm-chair among them. 
More than half of these chairs are all wood with 
no other trimmings ; eighteen are straw chairs, 
twenty-one are covered with moquette, and only 
six of them with '' old needlework tapestry." 
There are eleven small tables, some walnut, the 
others deal, or painted black. Four of those 
great cupboards that have been made in the 
provinces for some two score years, and which 
in the South of France are known as wardrobes, 
hold clothes and linen ; they are made of chest- 
nut. Let us add two small cupboards of greater 
antiquity, an old dresser, an old cabinet and — 

I A common stuff, generally in a pattern of small checks, 
woven of wool and linen thread. 



the only items that belong to a simple luxury — 
two gueridons, a small cabinet with drawers, a 
small mirror and a few "little curios by way of 
ornaments." That is all. Now Maitre Joseph 
Delacroix has forgotten nothing, seeing that 
having opened the door of a little room he went 
so far as to dictate to his clerk the following : 
" Item, Another chamber at the side — apples, 
fresh chestnuts and onions." 

And the plain country folk . . . what furni- 
ture did they have under Louis XIV? The 
answer is simple: they had, in a manner of 
speaking, none at all. Is this, as we are almost 
always told In books, through their extreme 
poverty and distress ? The point deserves a little 
examination. We most frequently form our 
opinion of the peasants' condition in the seven- 
teenth century from three kinds of documentary 
evidence, namely, from pictorial documents, 
which are practically confined to four or five 
pictures by the brotheis Le Nain, as many by 
Sebastian Bourdon, and certain engravings of 
Callot ; secondly, from certain literary texts, 
which are always the same. La Fontaine's Death 
and the Woodman^ the celebrated phrase of La 
Bruyere about '' certain wild animals, male and 
female, scattered about the countryside," and a 
letter or two of Gui Patin ; and lastly, from more 
precise documents in the shape of the adminis- 
trative correspondence of the intendants with 
the Comptrollers-General, the Memorandum of 
the King's Commissaries on the distress of the 


people^ the Detail de la France by Bois- 
Guillebert, and Vauban's Dime royale. 

These last named sources of information have 
a quite different value from the first. The Le 
Nains are intensely and admirably sincere and 
honest, but the peasant of their depicting is the 
peasant of a province that had been terribly 
trampled over by the men of v^ar for several 
generations, and their pictures are prior to 1648. 
In any case, the famous Repas des paysans in 
the Louvre ^ shows us two beggars who are 
assuredly very wretchedly poor, but the vine- 
dressers who are offering them the bread and 
wine of hospitality are very comfortably off : they 
have a well furnished bed, quite '^ bourgeois " in 
style and standard, a window with little leaded 
panes that is little less than a luxury article, and 
their son is playing the violin. Callot and 
Bourdon are the least veracious of artists, and 
Callot gives us no information except for the 
period of Louis XIII. La Fontaine does not 
pretend to put forward his woodman as a type 
of the peasant of France. La Bruyere's passage 
is admirable in its eloquence, and rivals in beauty 
Millet's Man with the Hoe, but must be taken 
cautiously just because it is so intent on its 
effect. The King's Commissaries, d'Aguesseau 
and d'Ormesson, bear valuable testimony to the 
horrible distress that reigned at the moment of 
their enquiry (1687) through Maine and the 
Orleans country, but a close reading will show 
I In the La Caze room. 


that they are describing a state of poverty that 
has only been in existence for a very little while. 
As for the testimony of that supremely honest 
fellow de Vauban, in 1707, we have to acknow- 
ledge that it is most afflicting. 

But there is in existence a whole category of 
documents still more unexceptionable — ^the in- 
ventories from which we have already drawn so 
largely. If we run through these we find quite 
a different face on the matter. From these we 
discover, not without some astonishment, from 
one end of the realm to the other, a very large 
number of peasant families living, if not in 
affluence, at least in a condition far removed 
from indigence ; and this more markedly at the 
close of the reign, in spite of the disastrous wars, 
the passage of troops to and fro, the continual 
levies of men and of taxes, the times of dearth, 
the dreadful winter of 1709. This fact is 
especially striking if we do not lose sight of the 
extreme simplicity of manners prevailing at this 
period, except in the very highest classes of 
society. The peasant was to grow rich under 
Louis XV especially, but he had begun already 
in the middle of the preceding reign. 

Labourers and vine dressers have a little pewter 
ware, and even a silver cup to relish their wine; 
they have linen, sometimes in great store ; their 
women spend comparatively lavishly on their 
toilette. They very often have a " skirt of violet 
serge with a bodice of red-flowered satin, with 
its sleeves of red serge," a "skirt of red cloth 


with a bodice of brocade " or of damask. The 
wife of a labourer in Champagne has in her chest : 
*' first, a skirt of purple serge with bodice of orange 
damask, trimmed with guipure and silk lace ; 
second, a skirt of fustian with its bodice of green- 
flowered damask, with two ribbons for shoulder 
straps ; third, another petticoat of red London 
serge, with bodice of orange damask trimmed with 
guipure below and lace above." We are very far 
removed here from the rags that draw tears of 
grief and pity from historians such as Michelet. 

These contradictions can be reconciled. At 
this period, when the circulation of wealth is so 
sluggish, one province may very well be suffering 
from extreme scarcity while another is enjoying 
a certain prosperity ; and passing causes — a bitter 
winter, a drought, a cattle plague — may bring 
about a few years of famine ; but from year to 
year, good or bad, Jacques Bonhomme's comfort 
goes on increasing little by little. 

Certainly it is not by the possession of furniture 
somewhat pleasing to the eye, or even moderately 
convenient that this humble ease of circumstances 
is displayed. The peasant has a coffer or two, 
sometimes iron bound and with lock and key, 
sometimes of leather studded with nails ; a cup- 
board with two doors ; marchepieds or steps to 
his bed that serve as chests, in which he stows 
away his clothes ; benches or rude stools for the 
oniy seats ; no tables : a table is improvised at 
need by fixing a plank on two trestles, or on 
casks cut in two and turned over, or on stools. 


A luxury gift he will make to his wife after a fine 
harvest, and if the tax collector has not been too 
greedy, is a small mirror framed in black wood, 
or a religious wood engraving all brightened up 
with fine colours. But for the most part he 
behaves like everybody else, clown or gentleman, 
like the King himself at Versailles ; where 
furniture is concerned everything else is sacrificed 
to the bed. Here is what we find in a labourer's 
house in 171 6, "a tall pillared bed, with eight 
pieces of green serge with silk fringes and 
mollets " ; with a peasant of Nogent-sur-Marne 
in 1672, "a coverlet of red ratine trimmed with 
silk lace and bordered with silk," etc. 

The very precise and detailed inventory of the 
goods of a village dame in the neighbourhood of 
Paris, a widow at Issy, in 1665, is interesting to 
analyse. At her death her furniture comprised 
an oaken kneading trough, an oak chest with 
lock and key ; a bed with a " custode ^ and bonnes 
graces^^"^ four straw chairs ; '* a middle-sized 
mirror with black frame." The whole is valued 
at eighty-eight livres, fifty-five for the bed by 
itself. The household linen is worth twenty- one 
livres ; the body linen and clothes ninety-eight 
livres ; and household utensils come to fifty-five 
livres. We must not be astonished at these 
modest sums : let us not forget that Boileau's 
magnificent bed which we have described was 
only set down at eighty livres. 

From this glance into the chateaux, houses 
I Curtains, 



and cottages of olden days we can come to the 
conclusion that the man of the end of the 
seventeenth century, as a general rule, takes 
little thought for the beauty or convenience of 
the articles that surround his private life — the 
famous state bed being a matter of vanity — and 
that he assigns to his furniture a very inferior 
share in his budget of expenses even as he does 
in his pre-occupations, and that what he is above 
all susceptible to is the beauty of fabrics. We 
have, in short, met with few simple pieces of 
furniture that can be declared to be of the 
Louis XIV style. And as for peasant furniture, 
we have either seen none, or it was so coarsely 
and rudely made of ill-planed planks roughly 
knocked together that before long it served for 
firewood. Are we then to stop at this point, 
and refrain from writing this little book, which, 
in talking of Louis XIV furniture, sets before 
itself the aim, most modest and overweening at 
the same time, to be practical and to leave on 
one side the furniture of museums and of the 
mansions of multi-millionaires ? No, indeed, for 
if we but search a little we still find pieces of 
furniture — except perhaps tables — that are simple 
and that really possess the characteristics of this 
style ; and as Louis XIV pieces do not at this 
moment enjoy the amazing vogue which every- 
thing Louis XV and Louis XVI now has, it is 
often possible to acquire them more cheaply, 
though they are much more rare. And then we 
are to discuss the Regency style : now, the first 


quarter of the eighteenth century is the period 
in which comfort is born, when dwellings, like 

manners, begin to be very like our own ; when, , J 

in short, the manufacture of " bourgeois " 
furniture suddenly spreads and develops through- t.^ 

out the whole kingdom.^ 

I We must here express our sincere gratitude to the amateurs 
and the directors of museums who have been so kind as to 
permit us to reproduce the furniture in their possession or under 
their care : Mesdames Dumoulin, Dupuy, Egan, de Flandreysy, 
Moutet; Baron de la Chaise, Messieurs BouUey, Boymier, de 
Brugiere de Belrieu, Ceresole, Delafosse Desportes, Ducros, 
Fidelin, Guillonet Marquis d'Isoard, Abel and Edouard Jay, 
Julien, Lar^gnere, Loreilhe, Dr. Moog, Pascaud, Philippe, Pr6vel, 
Tastemain, Zaphiropoulo ; the Directors of the Musee des Arts 
Decoratifs and the Carnavalet Museum, in Paris, and the 
Directors of the MuHeums at Metz, Mulhouse, Nancy, Strasbourg, 
Vieux Honfleur and Vieux Rouen. 


Bayard, ISmilE: " Le Style Louis IV." Paris (n.d.) 

"Les Styles Regence et Louis XV." Paris (n.d.) 

BOULENGER, JACQUES: *' L'Ameublement fran?ais au grand 
siecle." London. 1913. 

Champeaux, Alfred de: "Le Meuble" (Bibliotheque de 
I'Enseignement des Beaux-Arts). (Vol. U.) 

Guiffrey, Jules : "Artistes parisiens du XVIP et du XVIir 
siecle (donations, contrats, testaments, inventaires)." Paris, 

Havard, Henri: Les Boulle, Paris, 1893. " Dictionnaire de 
TAmeublement et de la Decoration." Paris (n.d.) 

DE M6ly et Bishop : " Bibliographie g6n6rale des Inventaires 
imprimes." Paris, 1895. 

MOLINIER, ^MiLE: " Histoire g^n^rale des Arts appliques k 
I'lndustrie." Paris (n.d.) (Vol. IL) 















INDEX 143 




1. Cupboard Door, Oak ") , 

2. Oak Door Leaf j 

3. Small Cupboard in two parts, in Oak 2 

4. Walnut Cupboard with one Door and a Drawer, from the 

South-west of France 3 

5. Cupboard with one Door and neutral Panels at the sides, 

in Walnut, from the South-west 4 

6. Norman Cupboard, Oak 5 

7. Large Cupboard with elaborate Cornice, in Walnut, from 

the South-west 6 

8. Cupboard from Saintonge, with Carved Panels, in Oak 7 

9. Large Walnut Cupboard, with elaborate Mouldings, from 

the South-west 8 

10. Very large Cupboard with arched Pediment, in Walnut, end 

of the style. From the Soutluwest 9 

11. Lorraine Cupboard in Oak, with Medallions, ornamented 

with Marquetry Stars 10 

12. Oak Alsatian Buffet in two sections, with arched Pediment II 

13. Very large Dresser-sideboard-commode, from Lorraine, 

in Cherrywood 12 

14. Walnut Under-cupboard 1 3 

15. Coffer set on a liable with a Drawer, from Normandy ") 

16. Coffer in Pigskin studded with nails ] ^ 

17. Marquetry Commode with Gilt Bronzes 15 

18. Marquetry Commode in the style of the Low Countries 16 

19. Commode veneered with Violet-wood 17 

20. Bed with curved Dossier and Cantonnieres 18 

21. Table with Baluster Legs, natural Oak 19 

22. Small Table with Console Legs, in Gilt Wood 20 

23. Small Table with Turned Baluster Legs ^ 2i 

24. Table with Twisted Legs, from Normandy ) 

25. Small RusticTableivith Console or "Doe\ Foot" Legs ) 

26. Small Table with Bracket-shaped Legs, in Cherrywood j 

27. Large Bureau with eight Turned Baluster Legs and nu- 

merous Drawers 23 

28. Simple Arm-chair with Turned Baluster Legs 24 

29. Gilt Wood Arm-chair, covered with Green and Gold Brocade 2$ 

30. Arm-chair of natural Walnut covered with RedGenoa Velvet 26 

31. Arm-chair of Gilded and Painted Wood covered with White 

and Silver Brocade 27 




32. Arm-chair with Console-shaped Legs with beautiful 

Mouldings 28 

33. Confessional-shaped Easy Chair, covered with Tapestry in 

Big and Small Stitch 29 

34. Chair of "Bracket" -Shaped Type ) 

35. Simple Arm-chair of Turned Wood > 30 

36. Arm-chair of Hie '^Bracket" Shape ) 

37. Chair from the South-west, modern Leather ") 

38. Chair from Auvergne with Baluster Legs j ^ 

39. Cane Chair with Legs en fagade ^ 

40. Wooden Chair from Lorraine I 

41. Arm-chair made of Wood. Normandy , with Flemish t " 

Influence ) 

42. Door Leaf, Oak ") 

43. Door Leaf, Oak ) 33 

44. Provencal Cupboard with Cabriolet Feet, in Walnut 34 

45. Norman Cupboard with Claw Feet, in Oak 35 

46. Lorraine Cupboard with Cabriolet Feet, in Oak 36 

47. Alsatian Buffet in two Sections, with small Marquetry 

Panels 37 

48. Alsatian Buffet in two Sections, in Oak 38 

49. Large Sideboard-dresser-commode, from Lorraine, with 

Inlaid Work 39 

50. Norman Dresser-sideboard in Oak 40 

51. Small Dresser-sideboard, from Lorraine, made of Oak 41 

52. Coffer, from Lorraine, made of Cherrywood '\ 

53. Coffer from the Hautes-Vosges,with the Hollow Carvings 42 

picked out in Paint ) 

54. Regency Commode veneered with Rosewood 43 

55. Simple Commode in Rosewood Veneer 44 
56 and 57. Case Clocks from Lorraine, in Oak 45 

58. Small Table with Doe's Foot Legs, Sunk Top and Incised 

Decoration 46 

59. Small Table with Doe's Foot Legs 47 

60. Bed with low Posts in Gilded Wood 48 

61. Arm-chair with Curved Top to Back^ 

62. Arm-chair with the Arms set back ) ^" 

63. Arm-chair of "Bracket" type with Arms not set back ") 

64. Arm-chair of the same type with Arms set back j ^ 

65. Arm-chair with Arm-Pads and visible Frieze of Wood ") 

66. Arm-chair of " Bracket " type with Arm-Pads ] ^ 
67 and 68. Chair and Arm-chair with Doe's Foot Legs and 

Stretchers 52 

69 and 70. Arm-chairs with Arms very curved and without 

Stretchers 53 

71. Tall Chair in natural Wood covered with Brochc Silk "^ 

72. Chair in natural Wood covered with White and Silver > 54 

Brocade ) 



73. Large " Confessional'* Arm-chair 55 

74. Bergere-arm-chair, Confessional shapes with the Wood 

shoiving 56 

75. Large Sofa with eight Legs, natural Walnut 57 

76. Cane Sofa with its Mattress Cushion, of Beechwood 58 

77. Cane Chair with Legs en facade ') -q 

78. Cane Arm-chair with Oblique-set Legs j ^^ 

79. Cane Chair with exaggerated Doe's Foot Legs "^ 

80. Straw Chair from Auvergne > 60 

81. Cane Chair with Stretchers j 

82. Plain Bench made of Beech 61 

83. Wall Bench, Walnut, covered with Crimson Damask 62 

84. Stool {Tabouret or Placet) in natural Walnut, covered with 

Broche Silk 63 

85. Screen, mounted in natural Walnut, with Panel of Silver- 

grey Damask 64 


In the decorative arts the period of Louis XIII 
had been one of the retreat of French taste 
before the influence of the Northern countries. 
Cabinets of ebony and of marquetry had been 
imported from the Low Countries and from 
Germany; sumptuous chairs of ornate leather 
for the most part came from Spain ; in France 
itself every form of ornamentation had grown 
heavy in the Flemish fashion. Then came the 
reign of Mazarin, and with it a regular Italian 
invasion. In short, when Louis XIV took the 
power into his own hands, furniture was essen- 
tially cosmopolitan, and we might declare that his 
long reign was, in this respect, merely one 
continuous effort of the French spirit to 
eliminate the elements in these importations 
from abroad that were discordant with the 
traditional genius of the race, which loved 
measure, clarity, sober elegance, an effort also to 
assimilate what was not incompatible with itself. 
This work of elimination and assimilation was 
not fully accomplished until the days of the 
Regency. It was not in any case a phenomenon 
peculiar to the art of house furnishing, or even 
the applied arts in general ; we can trace the 
same movement of evolution in sculpture, from 


Simon Guillain/ for example, to Coysevox in the 
latter years of his long career, or from 
Franqueville the Italianizer to Robert le 
Lorrain, whose Horses of the Sun, at the hotel 
de Rohan, are a masterpiece, preposterous indeed, 
but so brilliantly French ! 

Signor Giulio Mazarini was a great lover of 
pictures, sculpture, and every kind of work of 
art. In the real palace that Fran9ois Mansard 
had built on for him to the hotel Tubeuf, and 
which the painters Grimaldi of Bologna and 
Romanelli of Rome had decorated for him, he 
brought together, by dint of the millions that 
cost him little or nothing, the richest collection 
that had as yet been seen in France, pictures, 
statues, furniture, fabrics, goldsmith's work, 
jewels, gems and medallions.^ Nearly everything 
came from Italy : if his heart, as he pretended, 

1 When he made the exquisite statue of the Duchess of 
Burgundy as Diana. 

2 The inventory of this almost unbelievable accumulation of 
riches was drawn up in 1653 by a little clerk from Rheims, who 
looked after the cardinal's private affairs, and whose name was 
Jean Baptiste Colbert; its publication we owe to the Due 
d'Aumale. The enumeration is still incomplete, as Mazarin had 
seven years longer to live. To the cardinal's passion for his works 
of art we have a very curious testimony from Lomenie de Brienne. 
" One day," he writes in his Memoir cs, *' I was walking in a 
gallery in the Mazarin palace, when I heard the cardinal 
approaching; I knew him by the sound of his slippers, which he 
was shuffling along like a man in a very weak condition just 
recovering from a serious illness. I hid behind a tapestry, and 
heard him say: *I shall have to leave all this! ' He halted at 
every step, for he was very feeble indeed ; and turning his eyes 
to the object that was nearest his gaze, he would say from the 
depth of his heart, *I have to leave all this! ' and turning about, 
he went on, 'And that too ! I shall never see these things again, 
where I am going I ' " 


was French in spite of his language, his taste had 
never become naturaHzed. The hangings and 
the breadths of stuffs were Genoa or Milanese 
velvet, or Florentine brocade. The tables were 
Florence stone ; the cabinets were the stipi 
variously bedecked with lapis, amethyst, cornelian 
gilt bronze, silver, tortoise-shell and painted 
miniatures that were made by the craftsmen of 
the Grand Dukes of Tuscany ; others, inlaid with 
ivory and mother of pearl on ebony, came from 
Naples ; and those that were of iron repousse 
and damascened came from the workrooms of 
the Milanese armourers. 

Nevertheless, some pieces were- of Parisian 
make, though the craftsmen who had carried 
them out were natives of the Low Countries or 
of Italy. Among them was Pierre Golle, whom 
the cardinal had brought from Holland. Here 
is one of his works : " a cabinet in ebony, out- 
lined with pewter, with five niches between 
fourteen little marble columns with capitals in 
gilt bronze. In the middle niche a figure of 
Cardinal Mazarin under a pavilion, and in the 
other four Minerva, Painting, Sculpture and 
Astrology, on a gallery with balusters, under four 
vases and two figures representing Might and 
Justice ; and the King's arms over the pediment. 
This cabinet " is upheld " by a base of twelve 
thermes bronzed and gilt with the signs of the 
Zodiac." Others were Domenico Cucci, the 
wood carver, and Filippo Caffieri, the founder ot 
his line, both summoned from Rome ; and also 


the mosaic workers in hard stones and lapidary- 
artists, Ferdinando and Orazio MigHorini, 
Giovanni Gacetti and Branchi, all Tuscans. 

Foucquet also was a great connoisseur in fine 
things, but with a taste refined in a different 
sense from that of the Italian Mazarin. We 
know that Louis XIV and Colbert, where 
building was concerned, were only his imitators, 
since it was he who had managed, in order to 
give his chateau and park of Vaux-le-Vicomte a 
harmony of beauty then unique in the whole 
world,^ to bring together artists like the architect 
Le Vau, the gardeners Le Nostre and La 
Quintinie, the sculptor Puget, and lastly, the 
painter Le Brun, to whom he had already 
entrusted a kind of supervision of all works 
carried out for him, and the management of a 
tapestry factory at Maincy. Vaux, says Sainte- 
Beuve, is a " Versailles in anticipation." 

Mazarin dies, and the young king takes the 
"helm of the State " with a firm hand; at once 
Foucquet's amazing career crumbles to dust : 
the adder has overcome the squirrel.^ Fully 
possessed of the idea that noble buildings are as 
essential for the renown of a great monarch as 
the triumphs of Bellona and dazzling love affairs, 

1 We are not forgetting the royal chateau of Richelieu, 
now deatroyed. But it appears certain that for unity and 
harmony of beauty, in spite of a certain piled-up heaviness that 
keeps Vaux from being an absolute masterpiece, taken together 
Foucquet's chateau and park surpassed Richelieu's. 

2 It will be remembered that Foucquet's emblem was a 
squirrel (fonquct in old French) and Colbert's an adder (Latin 


and, besides, boldly encouraged in this path by 
Colbert, Louis XIV decides that art shall be 
one of the rays of his crown of glory, and takes 
into his own service en bloc all the artists that 
have worked for the first minister and for the 
Superintendent of Finance.^ 

And now begins the despotic sway of Le 
Brun that was to lie heavily for a quarter of a 
century upon all French art, for its good and 
for evil too. Colbert, who understood such 
things, had speedily discovered in him rare 
gifts as an organizer and a leader of men, and 
proposed him to the sovereign for a kind of 
State Secretary of Fine Arts. Now we see 
French art somewhat like a well regulated 
clock ; the central spring moves a first wheel, 
which engages a second, and so on. . . . This 
hierarchy, too, is universally accepted and not 
merely imposed by force ; Puget alone, in the 
depths of his native Provence, remains to some 
degree independent. Le Brun is made noble, 
he becomes sire de Thionville, then Chevalier of 
the Order of Saint Michel, First Painter to the 
King, Keeper of the Pictures and Drawings of 
the King's Cabinet, Life Chancellor and then 
Rector in perpetuity to the Academy of Painting, 
which gives him the government of '* great art," 
and Director of the Manufacture royale des 

I To lose no time he does not hesitate even to buy furniture 
at the sale of Foucquet's effects. That is how the Louvre comes 
to possess a round table of gilded wood, upborne by figures of 
children, the last jetsam of the early splendours of Vaux-le- 
Vicomte. It shows quite pronounced Italian characteristics. 


Meiihles de t,a coiironne, that is to say, the 
Gobelins factory, which brings under his rod all 
the so-called " minor " arts. 

He might very well say, '^L'Art, c'est moi." 
It must be quite roundly declared that there 
was no one besides Le Brun who deserved such 
a pile of honours and powers. In spite of his 
defects, which are serious — his colour is poor and 
vulgar, his drawing round and commonplace — 
he had very uncommon artistic gifts, and above 
all, the happy combination of an imagination 
sufficiently vigorous to achieve conceptions of 
vast scope and a talent for detail sufficient to 
realise them in the most meticulous perfection. 
He is the last of those universal artists, of which 
the Renaissance had known a few, capable of 
conceiving that enormous allegorical poem with 
innumerable strophes in painting, in gilded 
stucco, in marbles and bronzes, which the Mirror 
Gallery at Versailles is in reality, without think- 
ing it beneath him to design a window hasp ; 
sufficiently clever as a sculptor for such men as 
Coysevox and Girardon to find it natural to 
follow his directions, and not disdaining to 
arrange scenes for the theatre. "The intervals 
of spare times which he had to himself^ he 
employed in training himself in all the talents 
that are related to the art of design, and extend 
into the domains of architecture, goldsmith's 
work, cabinet-making, and, in general, everything 

I Guillet de Saint-Georges in his Mcmoires incdits sur les 
tnembres de VAcadimie de peinture. 


that deals with what appertains to fine build- 
ings." It is no mark of a mediocre spirit to 
have had so wide a conception of art. 

Three periods can be distinguished in the 
duration of the Louis XIV style, and in this 
whole time there is a uniformity in art that is 
too complete ; on the other hand, it is so closely 
attached to the royal person that it was 
inevitable that there should be three periods of 
evolution in the arts in general, just as there 
were three periods in the life of the monarch. 

Under Mazarin, as we have said, there is a 
persistence of Flemish influence, but a preponder- 
ance of Italian taste ; nearly all the artistic 
craftsmen are foreigners. This state of affairs 
cannot come to an end suddenly ; it continues 
during the early days of Louis XIV's personal 
rule, the more naturally seeing that the taste of 
this young prince, "in the flower of his age and 
the full strength of his passions," is not yet very 
refined. It goes on almost till 1675; these are 
the days of Mile, de La Valliere and the goodly 
'* reign " of Mme. de Montespan, the days of the 
carrousels^ ballets, masquerades, of unceasing 
fetes ; the days when the Louvre works have 
been abandoned and the first buildings begin to 
rise at Versailles. This early Versailles was much 
less pompous and ceremonious than is often 
imagined. There were aheady in the park such 
sylvan diversions as the labyrinth with groups of 
lead figures, painted in natural colours and 
representing Aesop's fables ; hydraulic diversions 


like the grotto of Tethys and its untimely jets 
to besprinkle unwary visitors, to the great glee 
of the initiate; the " royal island " or ^'island 
of love," in the midst of a pond, v^here the game 
is to get to it by skiff without being drenched 
under the arching jets of water that surround 
it ; we see a ^'ramasse" or *' roulette," a kind of 
switchback on which La Valliere's lover royally 
delights to make his timid mistress shriek with 
affright. All this is imitated from the gardens of 
Germany and Italy. 

The sun climbs to the zenith ; after this gay 
morning comes a resplendent noon of fifteen 
years. But above all, the years between the 
Peace of Nimuegen and the English revolution 
(1678- 1 688) are the triumphal years, in which 
the monarch of the lilies sees his apotheosis in 
his own lifetime. When, sitting on his solid 
silver throne with sixteen million livres in 
diamonds on his black justaucorps and his hat, he 
receives prostrate and humbled ambassadors at 
the end of his dazzling mirror gallery ; when his 
coach crosses the Place des Victoires and he 
beholds the statue raised in his honour by 
Marechal de la Feuillade between its never 
extinguished lanterns, can he not believe himself a 
god upon the earth ? His taste is finally formed, 
henceforth he understands the grandeur of 
simplicity, he loves the reasonable. Let us take 
an example ; the parterres with complicated 
meandering runnels of water have been replaced 
on the Versailles terraces with noble sheets of real 


mirror glass, whose great bare surface is so fine 
under the heaven they reflect. The trivial 
diversions of the park have been destroyed or 
abandoned. The Louis XIV art now reaches 
its perfect maturity, foreign elements are elimin- 
ated or transformed in so far as is possible when 
a Le Brun rules everything. ^^ Laissons^^ 
Boileau has just said in his Art Poetique : — 

"... laissons a I'ltalie 
De tous ces faux brillants I'eclatante folic." 

The poison of decadent Italianism is still at 
work in painting, so much is certain, and to a 
considerable degree in architecture, although 
Hardouin-Mansart, First Architect to the King 
in 1676, is a good Frenchman; but sculpture is 
purged of it, if we except old Puget, and already 
the art of decoration is almost altogether 

After 1690 comes decline and decay for the 
aging King. He has committed irreparable 
blunders, and punishment is beginning ; the 
League of Augsburg, the Great Alliance of 
Vienna, the Great Alliance of the Hague, all 
Europe rises up against him. He has lost 
Colbert ; after Colbert, Louvois, and after 
Louvois, Chamillart ! He has lost Conde, 
Turenne and Luxembourg ; his armies have now 
leaders like Tallard, la Feuillade, Villeroy. His 
couriers riding on the spur from the North or 
from the South now bring only tidings of 
disaster : defeat at Turin, reverse in Spain, rout 
at Ramillies, the loss of Lille . . . till Villars 


saves France and honour. Within this realm 
attacked on every hand are famine and civil war. 
The treasury is empty. Death strikes and strikes 
again into the royal family : will a bastard have 
to be set on the throne of Saint-Louis ? After 
radiant Montespan comes Maintenon, the 
prudish, cold-blooded Maintenon, the dis- 
illusioned, the eternally bored. While she plies 
her needle and yawns, tucked away in her famous 
niche, Louis sits in the opposite chimney-corner, 
with his gouty leg stretched out on a folding 
stool, and preserves a sullen silence. He suffers 
from his decayed teeth, his swollen foot ; he has 
slept badly, for the bugs have harried him all 
night in his hundred-thousand-crown bed ; 
vapours darken his brain, for in spite of Fagon 
he has once again eaten too many green peas. 
And he broods upon his violated frontiers. The 
Court is hanging about idly in attendance — 
gone are the days of f^tes lit by five thousand 
wax tapers . . . and it seeks distraction as it can. 
There is at the end of this reign an odd mixture 
of grossly flaunted cynicism and pretended 
rehgion. Princesses smoke pipes borrowed from 
the guardsmen on duty, and give themselves up 
to bouts of excessive drinking, whose consequences 
need to be shrouded up in darkness ; but the 
shadow of M. Tartuffe haunts the porch of the 
new chapel. 

Meanwhile French art pursues its destined 
path of glory. Its orbit for a moment has coin- 
cided with that of the Sun-King, but does not 


go with him in his setting. The tyrant Le Brun 
dies in 1690; old Mignard, his mortal foe, takes 
his place only to die in his turn four years later. 
It is possible to breathe freely, to grow eman- 
cipated. The war between '' Poussinistes " and 
" Rubenistes " finally ended in the victory of 
the partisans of colour, just as in the world of 
letters the quarrel between the Ancients and the 
Moderns ended in the victory of Perrault and 
Fontenelle. Rome still keeps her prestige, but 
is no longer in artists' eyes the holy city outside 
which is no salvation ; here also breathes the 
Gallic spirit — Rigaud and Largilliere have no- 
thing ultramontane about them. That delicious 
Siisanjiah in the Bath by Santerre, how purely 
French it is ! Fran9ois Desportes, his dogs and 
his game, are full of the richest and most living 
realism. We see a Tournieres revive genre 
painting in the Dutch manner, a Gillot, painter 
of burlesque themes, farces, caprices and 
"grotesques," sets Harlequin, Mezzetin and 
Silvia gaily a-frisk. In 1699 Bon Boulogne 
hangs in the exhibition of the Academic de 
peinture a Sacrifice of Iphigenia as a matter of 
form, but also a /eiine fille cherchant les puces 
h une autre I These two girls seem to us to 
close the age of Poussin and Le Brun in a highly 
piquant fashion. 

The King is no longer the artists' sole client. 
He hardly commissions anything now, for he is 
poor. Oh, yes : he is commissioning "paintings 
to cover the nude figures on the Gobelins 


tapestries." The Gobelins factory is even closed 
for several years from 1694; the high-v^arp 
weavers enlist in the armies. The world of the 
arts is working for others now : for the Due de 
Chartres and the Due d'Orleans, who most 
certainly have different tastes from the king, and 
for private persons, financial magnates like La 
Live and Crozat, great lords like the Rohan- 
Soubises ; for plain business folk, who are 
^^ building themselves comfortable houses with 
small rooms, less formal and more convenient, 
while the old sovereign shivers with cold as he 
daily continues, heroically imperturbable, to 
play the tragi-comedy of the /ever in his chamber 
no less icy-cold than magnificent. The times 
have brought a revolution : the Louis XIV art 
rapidly crumbled away in the concluding years 
of the century, and the art of the Regency 
began, considerably before the Regency itself 

But let us come back to our furniture. The 
manufactory of the Gobelins was founded in 
1662 and definitely organised in 1667 under the 
title of Manufacture royale des Meubles de la 
couronne. It was planned to produce many 
things besides tapestries ; the establishment on 
the banks of the Bievre was to be filled with 
''good painters, master high-warp weavers, gold- 
smiths, founders, engravers, lapidaries, cabinet- 
makers in ebony and other woods, dyers and 
other good craftsmen in every kind of art and 
craft." A vast programme indeed! 


The painters, who numbered more than thirty 
at the same time, included Van der Meulen, and 
Houasse, and Monnoyer, Michel Corneille, 
Nocret, Bon Boulogne. Not only had they to 
make cartoons and models, but also to carry out 
the painted silks (most often on gros de Tours) 
which were among the styles of hangings most 
eagerly sought after, the sculptors, Coysevox, 
Tubi, Slodtz and others, made vases to adorn 
parks, trophies of gilded bronze and various 
internal ornaments for the palaces ; Caffieri, 
Cucci, Lespagnandelle, all wood workers, carved 
in oak, walnut and lime the wooden parts 
of seats and tables, gueridons, pedestals, balus- 
trades, doors, frames for pictures and for 
mirrors ; the engravers, Leclere, Audran, Berain, 
Le Pautre, produced their collections of designs 
for ornaments; the lapidaries, at first the 
Italians wlxo had worked for Mazarin, and then 
their French pupils, put together pavements 
and facings of marble, and the tops of tables; 
the goldsmiths, Loir, Merlin, de Villers, ham- 
mered and chased not only gold nefs, plate, 
table utensils, but furniture of every kind : 
cabinets, consoles and gueridons, benches and 
stools, chandeliers, flower pots for orange trees, 
dogs for fireplaces. . . . This is the furniture, of 
Babylonian luxury, and let us venture to say, of 
very doubtful taste, that adorned the Mirror 
Gallery, the Grands Apparternents^ the Queen's 
Appartement and the King's Chamber. The 
cabinet-makers, Pierre Poitou, Foulon, Harmant, 


made cabinets, under-cupboards, cabinets for 
medals, tables, bureaux, parquet flooring, and 
marquetry clock cases. Lastly, two hundred 
and fifty weavers, mostly Flemish at the outset, 
produced those admirable tapestry sets, the Acts 
of the Apostles^ the History of the King^ the 
Battles of Alexander^ the Royal Residences. 
and a score of others after Raphael, Le Brun, 
Van der Meulen, Noel Coypel, etc. 

These efforts of so many various artists were 
never scattered, but always co-ordinated for the 
achieving of a common task by the strong hands 
of Charles Le Brun. The King's First Painter 
received the title of Director of the Factory, as 
being " a person capable and intelligent in the 
art of painting, to make the designs for tapestry, 
sculpture and other works, to cause them to be 
correctly carried out, and to have the general 
direction and supervision over all the workers to 
be employed in these manufactures." To make 
sure of the supply of craftsmen there was 
organised, for sixty children under the king's 
protection, *'the Director's seminary, to which 
there shall be appointed a master painter under 
him, who shall take order for their education 
and instruction, to be distributed afterwards by 
the director and by him placed in apprenticeship 
with the masters of each art and craft, according 
as he shall deem them fit and capable." Such 
were the admirable methods placed in Le Brun's 
hands by Colbert, and no less admirable was the 
use he made of them. There it was that the 


Louis XIV style was elaborated, with an imposing 
unity. The assimilation, or if it can be said, 
the " Frenchifying " of the foreign workers of the 
early days came to pass with incredible rapidity, 
but this same phenomenon has taken place 
among us in every period : in the fifteenth cen- 
tury, when we borrowed the flamboyant style 
from England ; in the sixteenth century, when 
from Italian elements we created our Renaissance 
style, which is so completely national ; and in 
the eighteenth century, when so many German 
cabinet-makers, the Oebens, the Rieseners, the 
Roentgens, so speedily became French of the 
French ! 

What remains now out of the huge and mar- 
vellous output of the Gobelins factory between 
1662 and 1690? Beyond the permanent 
decoration of Versailles — a great part of which 
was destroyed in the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries — and tapestries, already very scarce, 
there is hardly anything ; a few tables of stone 
mosaic, and a few frames of carved and gilded 
wood on the pictures in the Louvre that once 
belonged to the King's collection. It would 
be hard to imagine a more complete shipwreck. 
Happily, we have some excellent authorities to 
give us approximate information as to this varied 
output. There are prints representing views of 
the interior of Versailles, and better still, tapes- 
tries showing the History of the King, in par- 
ticular one of the finest, which commemorates 
a visit paid by Louis XIV to the Gobelins. Le 


Brun has even brought silver vases chased at the 
factory from his designs into his Entry of 
Alexander into Babylon, 

On the other hand, the General Inventories of 
the Furniture belonging to the Crown may give 
us a fairly exact idea of what the factory turned 
out. The tables were nearly all mosaic pictures 
inlaid in black parangon^^ set on their pied or 
underpart of gilded wood with heavily emphasised 
carvings : these were decorative compositions of 
rosettes, rinceaux^ festoons, etc., but also very 
frequently irregular scatterings of flowers, fruits, 
birds, caterpillars and butterflies in their natural 
CO ours, with rather childish attempts to trick 
the eye into believing them real, and even 
horrors such as can still be seen in the museums 
of Florence — a table decorated with a pack of 
cards flung down at random. 

Cabinets, when the factory started, were all 
like those of Mazarin, complicated, elaborate, 
rich to excess, loud with many colours, each one 
seeming rather a mineralogical collection than a 
work of art. Here is an example of the result of 
the collaboration of lapidary and cabinet-maker: 
" a cabinet of ebony with two large handles of 
gilt brass at the sides, embellished in front with 
three porticoes between four columns of German 
jasper, their bases and capitals of agate, also 
German, the middle portico with four little 
columns of Oriental jasper, and the two on the 

I Black basalt, which is nothing else than the touchstone of 



two sides of the same Oriental jasper, all with 
bases and capitals of gold, the front of the said 
cabinet covered with pictures of stone mosaic 
work representing landscapes, and enriched with 
several little ornaments of gold and enamel." 
Seven different materials, without counting the 
various minerals making up the " pictures." 
When cabinet-maker, goldsmith and lapidary 
pooled all the resources of their arts, the royal 
furniture was enriched with " a cabinet in the 
shape of a tomb, covered with a leaf of silver, 
made up of twenty drawers enriched with agate, 
jasper, lapis lazuli, cornelian, cameos and other 
precious stones ; in the middle, in front, a door 
of one single agate, between two columns also of 
agate, with their bases and capitals of silver gilt. 
The said cabinet standing on four silver spheres." 
The table intended to carry this cabinet of gold- 
smithery was " lacquered after the fashion of 
porphyry." What a beauty it must have been ! 
These cabinets were fairly soon out of fashion ; 
banished from the royal apartments, they were 
stranded in natural history collections. The 
Gobelins then made pieces that were much less 
Italian and much more austere, cabinets of cedar, 
partially gilt and with ornaments of gilt bronze ; 
of Brazil wood with compartments outlined in 
ivory ; and above all, pieces of every kind in 
marquetry of tortoise-shell, pewter and brass, 
with ornaments of chased and gilt bronze, after 
the manner of Boulle. The same good fortune 
fell to this prince of cabinet-makers as had been 


the lot of the Clouets among the painters of the 
previous century, namely, that as he never signed 
his w^ork, many pieces are unquestionably ascribed 
to him that were never made by him, but by 
cabinet-makers at the Gobelins or elsewhere who 
employed the same technique. 

These magnificent pieces are, it is true, outside 
the modest scope of the present book ; but as 
they have always been and still are looked upon 
as the supreme expression of the Louis XIV 
style, we cannot refrain from speaking of Andre- 
Charles Boulle. 

Like so many others he was of foreign extraction, 
but the assimilation was already complete among 
the BouUes for two generations back when he 
was born, in 1642, '*in the galleries of the 
Louvre." His grandfather, a furniture-maker of 
Neufchatel, and a Calvinist, had been brought 
from Switzerland by Henri IV and given an 
abode in the great " waterside gallery " that 
joined the palace of the Louvre to the palace of 
the Tuileries. This privilege was to be continued 
to the family for five generations ; Andre-Charles 
obtained it in 1672. Divided into little lodgings, 
the great gallery was peopled by artists of every 
kind, painters, sculptors, goldsmiths, enamellers, 
down to the "fourbisseurs," who hammered out 
pieces of armour there. These privileged people, 
who lived there with their families in the closest 
clannishness, and often married among them- 
selves, had the title of purveyors to the king and 
escaped the very strict regulations of mastership 


in their crafts, not a very good thing for the 
technical quality of their work. They were 
directly amenable to the Surintendance des 
Bailments . That is how Boulle was always 
independent of Le Brun, which did not prevent 
him from feeling, like everyone else, the influence 
of that powerful personality. Boulle also was a 
complete artist all round : we find him described 
as " architect, painter and sculptor in mosaic, 
cabinet-maker, chaser and inlayer to the King," 
and again, in another document, as " designer of 
monograms and master in ordinary of the seals to 
the King." 

Boulle, rather like Rembrandt, was incapable 
of combating his passion for collecting, and in 
spite of the large sums he earned (up to fifty 
thousand livres, we are told, for a cabinet), he 
lived always in embarrassment and plagued by 
law-suits. To crown his misfortunes, when he 
was nearly eighty years old he had the agony of 
seeing his admirable collections disappear in a 
fire, which at the same time devoured all the 
furniture both finished and in the making that 
was in his shop and his workrooms. There is 
preserved a petition he addressed to the king 
after this disaster, in which he sets down his 
losses at three hundred thousand livres. He had 
forty-eight drawings by Raphael, a priceless 
manuscript by Rubens containing his notes on his 
travels in Italy and remarks on painting, pictures 
by Corregio, Snyders, Le Sueur, Mignard and 
Le Brun ; an important collection of engravings, 


including a complete set of Albert Diirer ; 
bronzes by Michel Angelo, three thousand rare 
medals ; he was a connoisseur of the very highest 
/ But we must not make BouUe out to be the 

■^ only cabinet-maker of his time. He did not 
invent the style that has been given his name ; 
several collaborators helped him with his bronzes : 
Domenico Cucci, the great goldsmith Claude 
Ballin, the sculptors Van Opstal, Warin, Girardon, 
who supplied him with models in wax and in 
plaster. His arabesques and rinceaux are often 
clearly copied from Berain. His special merit 
seems to have been that of a clever manipulator 
of elements he had not invented for himself. He 
was unrivalled for his skill in wedding reliefs in 
gilt bronze to marquetry backgrounds to achieve 
perfect harmony, and in giving his furniture, 
especially his cupboards, noble, austere, and 
dignified architectural shapes, which make mag- 
nificent decorative pieces of them, worthy to play 
a leading part in the grandiose conceptions of 
Charles le Brun. But they are merely decorations, 
and we must not try to find anything else in 
them. Their outside is the best part of them. 
Under their dazzling finery and within their 
masterly lines these pieces of furniture are as ill 
constructed as the fagade plastered on to the 
Louvre by Charles Perrault. The ornamentation 
is not the accompaniment of the shape, but 
, determines it. Here too often lies the fault of 

l^ this Louis XIV art : magnificent exteriors masking 


hollow sham. *' Handsome head . . . but no 
brain inside," said La Fontaine's fox. 

The Boulle pieces that are genuinely by 
Andre-Charles are as scarce as Clouets by Janet 
and Francois. His four sons, cabinet-makers 
like their father, imitated him to the best of their 
ability, and later still, towards the end of the 
eighteenth century, the cabinet-makers Georges 
Jacob and Philippe Montigny made excellent 
imitations with bronzes cast from his models. 
These imitations are hard to distinguish from the 
originals when they are not signed. We may 
add that this kind of marquetry is so far from 
solid that the real genuine Boulle pieces have had 
to be almost entirely remade. 

In short, in founding the Gobelins and othe 
factories and favouring the artists of the galler 
of the Louvre, it was Louis XIV's intention to 
furnish his royal abodes with such magnificence 
that they should be worthy of " the greatest 
monarch of the universe." Colbert's aim, in 
advising him to take these measures, was to 
establish within the borders of the realm, or to 
bring to perfection, luxury industries so that the 
French, in the first place, would no longer be 
forced to buy their tapestries, fine furniture, rich 
stuffs, plate glass and the like from foreign 
countries ; and that they might in time compete 
beyond their own frontiers with the workshops 
of Italy, the Low Countries, Spain and Germany. 
Both the King and Colbert achieved their end, 
for towards the middle of the reign France no 



longer in any way paid tribute to foreigners 
where the arts pertaining to furnishing were 
concerned. It was the very utmost if a few 
caned seats were brought in from Holland. 

Within a few years space — from 1674 to 1686 — 
the Chateau de Clagny is built, decorated, and 
furnished for Madame de Montespan ; the 
Versailles of Le Vau is enlarged, under the 
supervision of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, by the 
Mirror Gallery, the two wings of the Ministers, 
the huge North and South wings. This colossal 
palace is speedily decorated and furnished ; at the 
same time the modest " porcelain " Trianon^ 
is knocked down, and its place taken by the great 
Trianon of pink marble, and this also is decorated 
and furnished immediately. Marly is begun in 
1679, finished, decorated and furnished in 1686; 
the King's impatience brooks no delay. The 
craftsmen are equal to everything. And we 
say nothing of Saint Cloud, built, decorated 
and furnished for Monsieur, nor of the other 
royal houses whose furnishings are completely 

This example is followed everywhere, once the 
first impetus is given. Chateaux and town 
houses, old and new, are filled with beds, arm- 
chairs, cupboards and tables in the new fashion ; 
when the King has finished furnishing and 
decreased his commissions the royal factories will 
be idle, but innumerable joiners, cabinet-makers 

I In reality faced with blue and white faience " in the fashion 
of the wares of China." 


and tapestry weavers will go on turning out for 
private persons furniture in the same style, and 
will presently invent new kinds to satisfy new 
wants, devising fresh shapes to suit their taste, 
in harmony with the new architecture. 

Just at the moment when the King's influence 
over the furnishing arts begins to be eclipsed a 
rapid and profound change takes place in manners. 
It cannot be said that social life loses its import- 
ance, the contrary is true, indeed ; but alongside 
of it home life, which had been wholly sacrificed 
to it, takes on an increasing importance. People 
want their ease and comforts, to suffer less from 
cold, to be able to seclude themselves from their 
train of domestics and from troublesome out- 
siders, to be able to go conveniently from one 
part of the house to another, to find at meal 
times their table prepared in a room devoted 
to the purpose. It appears that all at once a 
host of new wants are discovered which nobody 
had ever thought of before. People have a town 
flat, a chateau or simple country villa no longer 
merely to display to their friends a sumptuousness 
conferring prestige, but also in order to live 
pleasantly in them. Anyone about to build no 
longer demands from his architect above every- 
thing a suite of large pompous halls, whose long 
vista with all doors open may give visitors the 
illusion of a gallery in a palace, and off which the 
cabinets and little rooms in which the household 
will live their ordinary life are to be dumped as 
best they can. He now wants instead rooms fit 


to live in, adapted each to its own use, well 
warmed, well equipped with outlets and con- 
veniences, in a word, rooms that shall be on an 
ordinary human scale instead of seeming to be 
made for a race of giants. The French people 
will still wait a long time before they recapture 
from the English their own good old word 
confort^ but in default of the name they are 
beginning to have the substance. This same 
range of wants will bring wainscoting to the 
walls, wooden floors for underfoot, smaller fire- 
places, surmounted with mirrors, more perfection 
in joinery and wrought ironwork, and also an 
equivalent transformation in furniture. 

This progressive transformation is the mark of 
the passing from the Louis XIV style to the 
Louis XV style. The Regency style in all strict- 
ness has no more real existence than the 
Directoire style, but it is convenient to have a 
name for furniture that still retains certain 
characteristics of the Louis XIV period, and 
already shows some that belong to the Louis XV 
period. But it must be clearly realised that the 
duration of this time of transition does not 
coincide with that of the government of Philippe 
d'Orleans. His regency lasted for eight years 
(171 5 to 1723); but it may be said that if, on 
the one hand, the Louis XV style is already in 
existence in 1723, on the other hand the Regency 
style — if there is a Regency style — did not wait 
for the death of the aged Louis XIV to be com- 
pletely established. Louis the Great lived too 


long, and survived many men and many things, 
his style as well as his greatness itself. 

Let us, to be precise, set up a parallel of a few 
dates. In 171 1 Gillot succeeds Berain as 
designer of scenery and costumes to the Opera ; 
in 1 712 one of his pupils, a young Fleming ol 
twenty-eight, who spends his days in the younger 
Crozat's picture gallery intoxicating himself with 
the colour of Rubens and Veronese, and who 
paints scenes of soldier life or scenes from the 
Comedie ItaluitJte^ this young man is ^* received " 
into the Royal Academy of Painting. His name 
is Antoine Watteau. Out of the thirty-seven 
years of life doled out to him he is to spend 
thirty-one in the reign of Louis XIV. And it 
is in 1 710 that Robert de Cotte finishes the 
Chapel of Versailles ; in 1710 Germain Boffrand 
begins the decoration of the hotel Soubise, the 
finest and most typical ornamental work of the 
Regency style, and one of the most admirable in 
the whole range of French art. /^^^ 

On the death of Louis XIV the court scatters ^ 
in haste, and the boy king is removed from / 

Versailles. The Regent is intelligent, humane, 
generous, as brave as a sword blade, but wholly 
possessed by idleness and debauchery. Every 
kind of hypocrisy flings away its mask, and with 
such vicious men as the Duke Philippe d'Orleans 
and his former tutor Abbe Dubois governing the 
realm, everyone indulges himself to his heart's 
content. To the devil with majesty, gravity 
and virtue, those played out old hags ! Pleasure 


is god, and the bacchanalian orgy of the Regency 
is soon in full swing. To be truthful, of course 
it is not everybody that in the race for pleasure 
shows the same animal grossness of a Parabere, 
a Duchesse de Berry or her father the Regent. 
There are refined and elegant voluptuaries and 
poets like Watteau, who transfigures pleasure by 
bathing it in a delicate mist of beauty and dream ; 
but there was at the moment, by way of reaction, 
an hour of drunken orgy that few escaped.^ 
That century of the suavity and elegance of 
living had its wild youth between fifteen and 
twenty-five. It had this wild youth in the 
domain of art as well as in that of manners, and 
this was the vogue of the rocaille style, which is, 
so to say, merely an eccentric part of the Regency 
style. We discuss it elsewhere ; ^ suffice it here 
to observe that the two artists who most of all 
exemplify " Rocaille " in its most violent form 
were of foreign blood : Gilles-Marie Oppenord, 
from the Netherlands, and Juste-Aurele Meis- 
sonier, a native of Turin. 

Along with Boffrand, the most remarkable 
architect of the period is Robert de Cotte, the 
brother-in-law, disciple and continuator of Jules 
Hardouin-Mansart, the creator of the admirable 
episcopal palace of Strasbourg. He is a charm- 
ing artist, of an elegance wholly French, Attic, 
and measured, who preserves just the right 

1 It is unnecessary to say that we are speaking here only of 
that infinitesimal part of the nation that made up the aristocracy 
of birth and wealth. 

2 In French Furnilurc uiulcr Louis XV, 


amount of the nobleness of the Louis XIV 
manner. Starting with 1699, he was " intendant 
and general supervisor of buildings, gardens, arts 
and manufactories to the King." Unfortunately 
the factories, especially the Gobelins, were then 
fallen on evil days. Robert de Cotte has left 
exquisite models for furniture in his collection of 
designs,^ but no actual piece has come down to us. 
The cabinet-maker par excellence of this 
period was Charles Cressent. He sums up the 
furniture of the Regency just as Boulle did that 
of Louis XIV. He was a Frenchman of unmixed 
descent, born at Amiens in 1685, the son of a 
sculptor who remained in the provinces and the 
grandson of a master joiner of Picardy. He 
himself was both sculptor and cabinet-maker, as 
capable of making the wax models for his bronzes 
as of designing his furniture as a whole, of plan- 
ning their construction and veneering them with 
costly woods. Cressent brought a new element 
of colour into cabinet-making ; the moment had 
come when the Compagnie des Indes was 
beginning to import oversea woods of warm hues ; 
the funereal ebony was abandoned, but we had 
not yet reached the light gaiety of rosewood and 
the rich dark ruddy glow of mahogany. Cressent 's 
favourite combination is still austere ; it consists 
of amaranth wood in " fern-leaf " veneer and 
enframed with violet-wood. On this background 
the ormolu bronze shows up superbly, with more 
suaveness than on the ebony of the Boulles. 
I They have never been engraved. 


Charles Cressent had several manners. In 
certain of his pieces he displays himself more as 
a sculptor than as a cabinet-maker ; in these the 
bronzes assume an exaggerated importance, 
covering almost half the surface and standing out 
in high relief, almost a little turgidly ; but what 
admirable chasing, rich and sinewy at the same 
time, broad or concise at need, and always 
free, easy and full of life and intelligence. At 
other times he drew inspiration from the light 
grace of Berain or Gillot or Watteau, and placed 
on a ground of satinwood certain amusing 
" monkey- pieces " in framings of always perfectly 
balanced curves. But his most perfect works 
were certain flat bureaux, very sober and austere, 
with lines of impeccable purity, masses balanced 
to perfection, and their bronzes proportioned 
and distributed with marvellous instinct and 
tact. The most important of these bronzes are 
found at the top of the legs, under the rounded 
angles of the flat top of the bureau, those busts 
of female figures that were called espagnolettes\ 
their dainty charm makes them sisters to 
Watteau's most piquant child-women, but they 
are untouched hj the slightest meanness or 
triviality. An exquisite profile, a bosom barely 
repressed by the pointed bodice, a tiny toque — 'tis 
Silvia, 'tis Miranda, 'tis Columbine or Rosalind. 
Italian names, but the women so French ! 
Between these bureaux and those of Boulle there 
is no real essential difference ; but how much 
more developed is Cressent 's sense of line, of the 


beautiful curve ! Beside him Boulle is massive 
and lacking in grace, but Cressent's gracefulness 
does not exclude nobility. These pieces in some 
sort epitomise all the qualities of the two periods ; 
they are perhaps the supreme flower of French 

Now the task is accomplished, and the last 
traces of Italian or German influence have dis- 
appeared from French furniture. The great 
national tradition is re-established. Let us 
widen our horizon ; henceforth Italy has lost 
her artistic supremacy, won by France in high 
conflict, in every province of art, and to be held 
for a long period. Now all the peoples of Europe 
must turn to us when they are fain to embellish 
the setting of their lives. The great Colbert 
must needs be well content in his tomb at Saint- 




One must needs regret when one has to speak 
of the Louis XIV style that our language lacks 
the richness of Italian, which can add to the 
simple meaning of a word the notion of great- 
ness by merely clapping the termination one on 
to it. Is it not more expressive, in talking of 
Versailles, to say, uno grandisshno p a la z zone 
than '' an enormous palace " ? And is not 
seggiolone marvellously adapted to signify a huge 
and imposing arm-chair of gilded wood in this 
style ? The most usual and most striking 
characteristic of this style is, in fact, greatness, 
and first of all in the root meaning of the word, 
for in this period, so much in love with greatness 
in everything, when men seemed to seek to 
increase even their stature, like the actors of 
antiquity, above by means of the big peruke with 
curls arranged in stages, and below by means of 
their high red heels, a table was much bigger 

33 e 


than it needed to be, with overgrown legs joined 
by over-massive cross-pieces ; an arm-chair was 
too tall on its legs, nearly big enough for two, 
and its back of excessive height, unless we take it 
that that vast rectangle's only function was to 
act as background to those huge perukes invented 
by the Sieur Binet and called after him hinettes^ 
or else for those lofty erections of lace and ribbon, 
known as fontanges^ that crowned the heads of 

But this furniture has another greatness of a 
less material kind, what Louis XIV had in his 
mind's eye when he used to say, ''That has 
something great . . . that touches greatnesss " 
. . . the highest praise he could bestow : the 
grandeur that comes from ample, spacious lines, 
not always simple, but nearly always architectural, 
from masses solidly placed, from plain surfaces 
on which a rich flat decoration could unfold 
itself without break or impediment. This great- 
ness is power, it is nobility. With no play on 
words, this Louis XIV style is a style as noble as 
that of our great classical writers. Unfortunately, 
the phrase "noble style " brings with it also an 
unfavourable turn, as when, for instance, we speak 
of Despreaux' Ode siir la prise de Namiir. 
All Louis XIV art, Le Brun art, is of this kind of 
nobility ; there was never found the man of 
genius who could have brought it to the pitch 
of perfection reached by Racine's poetry and 
Bossuet's prose. In architecture, in painting, in 
the decorative arts, the style of the period always 


has something rhetorical and hollow. It is too 
much a question oifagade ; does this derive from 
its Italian origins ? There is a very striking 
resemblance, in their respective scales, between 
an Italian church fagade cased with marbles, 
whose lines and divisions have no relation to the 
architecture upon which it is fastened, and the 
fagade of a Boulle cupboard, a rich casing of 
many-coloured and incongruous materials hiding 
a framework of deal — and pretty badly put 
together at that — whose exact structure escapes 
us. On the other hand, in a Gothic fagade, the 
ornamentation is infallibly incorporated with the 
structure and serves to make it manifest; in a 
French dresser of the fifteenth century the 
framework provides both the basis and the first 
elements of the decoration. Claude Perrault's 
fagade of the Louvre, or that by Salomon de 
Brosses at Saint-Gervais, and that of the Boulle 
cupboard are, properly speaking, deceptions, lies ; 
the front of Notre-Dame and a dresser of 
the time of Charles VIII are sincerity itself. 
Let us add that less ambitious cupboards, such 
as the ones reproduced here, pieces in the 
tradition of pure joinery, also show this splendid 
sincerity with their bold mouldings that so clearly 
display their actual architecture. 

Louis XIV furniture of the costliest type seems 
ashamed of even the very scanty usefulness it 
possesses ; it does all it can to hide it. In the 
same way Claude Perrault's Louvre would blush 
to display roofs or chimneys or gutters. As much 


as possible they give themselves the air of blocks, 
of monolithic pedestals — it is more " noble." 
So too the same Perrault declared, " it is a great 
beauty in a building to appear as though made of 
a single stone, the joinings being invisible." 
There you have it, the detestable doctrine of 

The Louis XIV style is sumptuous. It is fain 
to strike and to impose itself rather than to 
please, less to charm than to astonish. Some- 
times it has a heavy and fatiguing stateliness. 
But we must not carry this criticism too far ; it 
could relax and smile too. The " Porcelain 
Trianon" was anything but stately, with its 
blue and white vases bristling along the lines of 
its roof, and its "various birds done in natural 
colours." The grandson of Henri IV was too 
fond of women not to oblige his academic artists 
to make all proper concessions to feminine taste. 
At Versailles may be read a page of one of 
Mansart's reports, in the margin of which the 
master has written as follows : " It seems to me 
that something ought to be altered, that the 
subjects are too serious, and that there must be 
something of youth mingled with what is to be 
done. You are to bring me sketches when you 
come, or at any rate ideas. There must be 
something of childhood diffused everywhere." 
And in fact, in the decorations of Versailles 
children shed their gaiety everywhere, from 
the Salle de V Oeil-de-Bceuf^ where they are 
gambolling like kids all along the cornice, to the 


garden of the Grand Trianon, where they prance 
so merrily in the water, passing through the 
Southern parterre, where grave Sphinxes allow 
themselves to be unceremoniously bestridden by 
them, and by the ponds of the Seasons, where 
they are sporting with the gods. 

But there must have been a pleasant contrast 
with the Olympian pomp of the Grands 
Appartements in the Chinese objects that were 
everywhere to be seen in them. Without the 
actual inventories it would be impossible to 
beheve to what extent the contemporaries of the 
Great King delighted in everything that came out 
of China. We have seen that Boileau shared in 
this universal craze. In every royal house there 
were emmeublements — a bed complete, arm- 
chairs, folding stools, hassocks, and wall hangings 
— in white satin or white taffeta, ''embroidered 
and covered on both sides with flowers, figures, 
animals, and other things from China, in 
various colours." The Kings's own chamber was 
"emmeublee"^ in this fashion at the moment 
when the four friends, Racine, Boileau, Chapelle 
and La Fontaine, in 1668, paid a visit to 
Versailles, which La Fontaine has so delightfully 
described for us. '' Among other beauties, they 
paused a long time to look at the bed, the 
tapestry and the chairs with which the King's 
chamber and cabinet have been furnished : it is 
a Chinese stuff, full of figures embodying the 
whole religion of that country. For want of a 
I It was a summer set of furniture. 


Brahmin^ our four friends understood it not at 
all." And this " dressing gown of white satin, 
embellished with Chinese embroidery, lined with 
green taffeta," is neither more nor less than 
Louis XIV's own dressing gown. '' Chinese stuff, 
a gold ground sprinkled with large leaves and 
plants, from which spring branches of flowers with 
birds and butterflies . . . blue Chinese gauze, 
sprinkled with flowers in gold and silk . . . 
Chinese gauze amaranth or dried rose colour . . . 
Chinese stuff of flame colour . . . Chinese stuff, 
silk, of violet ground sprinkled and filled with 
flowers painted in divers colours ..." all the 
dream stuffs that China wove, embroidered, and 
painted in the days of the flrst Ts'ings, shimmer 
in every page of the old inventories of the Crown 

The Mercuries and Apollos that filled the 
ceilings above the great gold and marble salons 
saw beneath them things still more suprising. 
Here, a " black carpet with Chinese lettering 
edged with 'a band of yellow, with little flowers 
in embroidery " ; there a lacquer cabinet on 
which geese are flying and rabbits browsing — 
animals far from noble ; another on which they 
perceive " a kind of monster v^th all four legs 
in the air " ; ^ and lastly, everywhere on the most 
majestic tables of mosaic work, on the scabellons * 

1 A Brahmin as a Chinese priest I La Fontaine does not go 
into the matter so closely ; besides, Persia, China, India, Japan 
were all one for the Westerns of this age. 

2 The dragon of F6, doubtless. 


of Boulle, and the gilded consoles of Cucci, 
pagodes everywhere. That was the name given 
to those little figures of every kind of material, 
imported from China or from India, which 
were chosen for their oddity, and over which 
everybody went crazy : Pou-Tai, obese and 
laughing on his sack of rice ; Sakya-Muni 
meditating on his lotus-blossom ; Lao-Tse with 
enormous forehead sitting on his buffalo ; ** an 
old man huddled up on a stork," or ''a beggar 
leaning against a gallows." But what must 
have made Alcides drop his club out of his 
hands with astonishment, was to see one day a 
Chinese cabinet make its appearance, '* to which 
his Majesty has had ten silver plaques fastened 
representing the labours of Hercules." This 
singular combination gives us quite new side- 
lights on the taste of the monarch. 

What was there not to be found in that 
Versailles, which we are wrong in thinking of 
as all solemn state, and consequently in all 
the elegant interiors that prided themselves in 
resembling Versailles ? '' One hundred and 
seventy-one bouquets of various kinds of flowers 
. . . made with one single roll of silk cords . . . 
515 httle grotesque figures made, like the 
flowers, of rolled twist ... 28 other larger 
figures of pasteboard and dressed in Indian robes 
of gold and silver and silk brocade" . . . table-tops 
entirely made of shells and cement . , . spinning 
wheels with their travoils ^ in the apartments of 

I Winders for the thread. 


princesses, for in these days princesses span and 
poetesses sang of their distaffs : — 

Quenouille, mon sojici,je vous fromets etjnre 
De vous aimer toujours, et ne jamais changer 
Voire honneiir domestiqiie en tin bicn etranger. 

In the alcoves, just as in the rooms of girls 
to-day, might be seen little whatnots on which 
there were ranged knick-knacks of the most 
heterogeneous kind : a knife-grinder with his 
cart, made of silver filigree ; a stag of blown 
glass ; a coral tree ; a doll's house. There might 
be seen, put up on the chimney-pieces, paper 
hand screens, upon which were engraved the far 
from edifying '' Delights of the French soldier " ; 
innumerable bouquets of artificial flowers in 
porcelain vases, '' three thousand and thirty-one 
bouquets of flowers of various colours made of 
pleated silk gauze " : round tables made of glass ; 
and even boules de jar din, "phials of glass 
tinned inside, mounted on feet, placed on the 
mantelshelf to reflect in miniature the objects 
contained in the room " 1 

But there was one ornament for walls and 
mantelpieces, even in the state-rooms, that had 
an unheard of vogue. This was porcelain, either 
Chinese porcelain or its imitation in " Dutch 
porcelain," that is to say. Delft faience. One must 
see certain prints by Daniel Marot or Le Pautre 
to realise to what heights this craze could be 
carried. Here is a chimney-piece carrying at 
each end of its shelf a large vase in shape of a 
horn and a bottle ; in the middle, on a whatnot 


with four diminishing shelves, rises a pyramid of 
twenty-two pieces of porcelain. This way of 
decorating chimney-pieces had become so habitual 
that d'Aviler in his Traite (T Architecture wrote: 
" The height of a chimney-shelf should be six feet, 
so as to prevent the vases that may be arranged 
on it from being knocked over." And we know 
from childhood, since we read it in Riquet a la 
Houppe, how the stupidity of a princess of those 
days showed itself. " She either made no answer 
to what she was asked, or said something stupid. 
And she was so clumsy to boot, that she could 
not have ranged four bits of china on a chimney- 
shelf without breaking one of them, nor drunk a 
glass of water without spilling half of it over her 
clothes." In rooms decorated after the Chinese 
style it went further still. Cups alternately with 
saucers standing on edge, on tiny brackets or 
shelves, enframed panels lacquered in the Chinese 
fashion ; others were ranged over the lintels of 
the doors ; all the lines of a chimney-piece were 
laid out with them ; one such chimney-piece was 
adorned with more than two hundred and twenty 
bits of china. Did not the Due d'Aumont, if 
Saint-Simon may be believed, even take it into 
his head one day to have a cornice run all round 
his stable, which he covered with rare pieces of 

It is perhaps worth while to lay stress on this 
counterpart to the majestic decorative art inspired 
by Le Brun, for we are too much accustomed to 
judge from the dead and empty halls of unused 


and ravaged palaces, or from pieces of furniture 
displayed in isolation in museums and collections. 
Now that we have a comprehensive idea of our 
style, and of the atmosphere, so to say, in which 
it was shaped, we shall endeavour to analyse more 
precisely its distinguishing characteristics, con- 
sidering more especially furniture of the less 
elaborate kinds. ^ 

The Louis XIV style, perhaps chiefly because 
it had an eye on economy, abused the straight 
line in furniture. The style that came after did 
not avoid straight lines, it even emphasises them 
by a multiplication of parallels, with a slightly 
tiresome insistence, for example, in cupboards 
with large horizontal cornices.^ In any case they 
are not detracted from and broken by a host of 
artifices, as they will be in the Louis XV style, 
where this later style consents to retain them. 
These straight lines sometimes give a certain 
impression of dryness,^ but on the whole this is 
much less frequent than in the Louis XIII or 
the Empire style. 

Curved lines were also very much employed, 
even before the style began to incline to the 
Regency lines. The Louis XIV curve is simple, 
firm and concise, with short radius; it never 
shows that species of loosened languor, so to say, 

1 A great number of Louis XIV motives continued to be used 
in the Regency period, and we shall accordingly borrow in this 
chapter examples from the furniture of the succeeding period. 

2 See the cupboards in Figs. 4 and 7, and especially in Fig. 9. 

3 See the stretchers of the table in Fig. 23, and also the 
stretcher of the arm-chair in Fig. 35. 


which gives so much charm to the long curves 
of the Louis XV style. The table in Fig. 22 is 
wholly typical in this respect. Except in its 
rectangular top it does not present a single 
straight Hne. We must needs recognise that in 
this example the line is confused, too much 
broken up into short curves, and that this gives an 
effect of heaviness. The most successful pieces of 
this period offer a very harmonious combination 
of straight lines and curves, from which there 
results a sturdy firmness that does not prevent 

Right angles are not often evaded or softened ? ^ 
Like the regular courses in a wall of well squared 
cut stone, they express ideas of security, solidity, 
preciseness, of abstract reason also ; here we may 
perceive the sign of the " geometrical spirit " of 
which Pascal spoke. Boileau had a mind full of 
right angles, Descartes also, and Corneille, and 
the great Arnauld, and Poussin too. Look at 
Poussin's portrait of himself in the Louvre ; was 
it by mere chance that the background is cut up 
by several right angles? 

These perpendiculars form the boundaries of 
panels, which others still subdivide into smaller 
panels ; and this is another characteristic feature 
of an epoch that loves clearly defined hmits, 

1 Good examples of this harmony may be seen in the wood 
panels in Figs. I and 2, the cupboard in Fig. 6, the arm-chair of 
Fig. 32, the commode in Fig. 19, and above all the magnificent 
cupboard of Fig. 10 and the very handsome table of Fig. 21. 

2 See the numerous right angles in the cupboards of Figs. 
4, 5, 6, the arm-chair of Fig. 32, etc., etc. 


equal subdivisions, tragedies whose five acts never 
overlap one another, alexandrines without carry- 
over, strongly divided at each hemistich and 
moving two by two ''like oxen," discourses in 
three clearly marked and defined heads, all 
equally developed and separated by unmistakable 
transitions. This subdivision into panels, " com- 
partments " as they were called, is often a 
complete decoration in itself. 

The panel in its early shape is a simple 
rectangle with a plain surface ; the " diamond 
point" decoration of the Louis XIII style is 
done away with.^ An early enrichment consists 
in hollowing out the four angles ; ^ often the 
hollowed space is decorated with a motive carved 
in relief, a little rosette or the like.^ Sometimes 
the panel is only hollowed at the top corners.^ 

Next comes the panel with semicircular top, 
the diameter of the curve of the semicircle being 
less than the side of the rectangle to which it is 
applied,^ which gives a semicircle, the diameter 
of which is produced both ways in two straight 
lines. The four right angles of the panel remain. 
This is, especially in joiners' work, one of the 
fundamental and most characteristic shapes of 
the style, and is found everywhere. The archi- 
tects of the period, whose nomenclature was full 
of a genial simplicity, called this a '' panel rounded 

1 Lower part of cupboard, Fig. 4 ; bufifet in Fig. 12, etc. 

2 Door panels of cupboard, Fig. 7. 

3 Cupboards, Figs. 3 and 6. 

4 Buitet, Fig. 47. 

5 Cupboards, Figs. 4, 6, 7, etc. 


at the top." The whole fagade of a piece of 
furniture may be of this shape ; we then have 
a semicircular pediment/ The panel may be 
rounded at top and bottom.^ Let us suppose a 
square panel arched in this fashion on each side; 
this gives a very happy motive,^ known as a 
"square rounded on its faces," which is no other 
than a Gothic framing, very common in the 
thirteenth century : of this kind are the famous 
quadrilobate medallions that figure on the sub- 
basement of the doorway of Amiens cathedral. 
It is agreeable enough to see the men of the 
seventeenth century thus unconsciously re-dis- 
covering the 

. . . ade goust des ornemens gothiques 
Ces monstres odieux des siecles ignoranSy 
Que de la barbarie out produit les torrens, 

as Moliere says in detestable verses. This me- 
dallion, when simplified by the suppression of the 
corner angles,'* gives the quatrefoil, which is 
pure Gothic also. 

The combination of the semicircle with the 
hollowed angles gives another very common and 
highly typical motive, ^ which for convenience we 
may call the cintre a ressaut. This line is also 
found in the pediments of cupboards and side- 
boards,^ at the top of the backs of certain leather 

1 Buffet, Fig. 12 ; clocks, Figs. 56 and 57. 

2 See the narrow sunk panels flanking the doors of the 
cupboard in Fig. 5. 

3 Cupboard, Fig, II. 

4 Cupboard, Fig. 5. 

5 Cupboards, Fig. 8,^and under-cupboard, Fig. 14. 

6 Sideboard, Fig. 48.' 


chairs, and in the stretchers of the tables and 
seats. ^ Elongated in elevation,^ or on the contrary 
flattened out,^ modified by the greater importance 
given now to the arch/ now to the hollowed 
angles,^ repeated at the two ends of a panel,^ 
duplicated back to back/ repeated four times/ 
or combined with a simple semicircle^ to form a 
medallion, this motive lends itself to a host of 
different uses. We shall see presently how it 
evolved in the Regency period. There is another 
shape fairly frequent in panels : it has a hollow 
or re-entrant semicircle at the bottom corre- 
sponding and parallel to the semicircle at the 

Besides the rectangular panel the circular or 
oval panel" was also often employed, forming a 
medallion. Let us note, in short, that as the 
Louis XIV style was addicted to parallel lines, 
the shape of a panel or compartment was often 
determined by that of the next door panel, 
which it complies with when the other is the 
more important." 

The division of a surface into panels may have 

1 Arm-chair, Fig. 32, and chair, Fig. 38. 

2 Cupboard, Fig. 6, the panels at the top of the doors. 

3 Cupboard, Fig. 5. 

4 Cupboard, Fig. 8, the top part. 

5 Same cupboard, the lower part. 

6 Cupboard, Fig. 9. 

7 Cupboards, Fig. 5. 

8 Cupboard, Fig. 5. 

9 Cupboard, Fig. 46. 

10 Under-cupboard, Fig. 14. 

11 See the woodwork in Fig. I and the buffet. Fig. 47. 

12 Cupboards, Figs. 4 and 5 (curious small compartments of 
ogee shape), and Figs. 9 and lO. 


no other intention than to achieve ornamenta- 
tion, as in elaborate wainscoting, but it is 
different in the case of the doors of cupboards. 
Here it is essential, the traverses serving to give 
the solidity and firmness that the uprights v^^ould 
not suffice to ensure, unless the joiner made them 
of an excessive thickness. 

Panels are edged definitely with mouldings 
that serve to define their shape. Louis XIV 
moulding is emphatic, strongly expressed, in high 
relief ; it produces strong effects of shadow, 
throwing into vivid contrast the blackness of its 
hollows and the lights of its projections ; it is 
often very complicated and occasionally heavy, 
but it is never flabby. Originating in the heavy 
mouldings of Louis XIII, it moves always in the 
direction of suppleness and refinement. There 
are arm-chairs of this period which have mould- 
ings, especially on the arms, as handsome as the 
most perfect of the middle ages or the Louis XV 

Its elements are wholly classic, of course : 
fillets and quandrantals, doucines and scotias ; 
though it continually employs the bee de corhin 
or crow's bill motive, which comes from Gothic 
art, for framing. 

In the proper aesthetic scheme of furniture, 
the part played by mouldings is to mark the 
different elements of its construction by bringing 
out their function in the piece as a whole. For 
example, horizontal mouldings emphasise the 
division of cupboards into sections, whether they 


are in two parts ^ or have a drawer.^ But at the 
period we are now dealing with, pre-occupations 
as to the enframing, which is always so striking, 
and as to symmetry, often carry the day over 
this wholesome logic. A whole cupboard fagade 
may be framed round like a picture,^ while the 
division between the drawer section and that of 
the cupboard proper will not be indicated ; a 
very high moulding will run all round the cup- 
board, carried along, in the lower part, across 
and over uprights and traverses to correspond 
symmetrically with the cornice/ 

This subdivision into panels, and this use of 
mouldings may well suffice, by the play of the 
light upon the various planes and the mouldings, 
to create an intensely decorative result. Two 
handsome cupboards, reproduced here, prove 

But most frequently carving is brought into the 
ornamenting of massive pieces, and bronzes are 
placed on marquetry or veneered furniture. We 
must glance rapidly at the favourite motives of 
these two methods under Louis XIV. 

The simplest motives of all, made up of lines 
only, are the elementary curves, which may be 
named the C-shaped curve (known in the seven- 
teenth century as anse de panier^ "basket- 
handle "), and the S-shaped curve, which all the 

1 Fig. 3. 

2 Figs. 4, 5, 7, 9/etc. 

3 Fig. II. 

4 Figs. 3. 4, 5, 9, etc 

5 Fig. 9 and especially 10. 


styles employed more or less. These end in two 
little crooks, and are frequently lightened with a 
little acanthus motive. The two wooden panels 
of Figs. I and 2 show them to us employed and 
combined in many ways : the C curves facing 
and crossed forming the elements of a rosette ; ^ 
two S shapes touchmg at one of their curves, 
enframing a sprig of foliage ; ^ four C shapes 
back to back, forming a motive in the form of a 
cross,^ etc. When two S-shaped curves are crossed 
about one-third from their lower end, and their 
tips touch below, or even melt into one con- 
tinuous line, we have the boucle^ A boucle^ or 
several, one below the other, diminishing and 
ending in a floret or a campane,* form the natte 
or tresse, one of the most usual shapes of chute* 
Among motives for backgrounds, the favourites 
are lozenges with florets ^ or with dots,^ and 

Motives taken from the human figure were, 
of course, only used in decorating very costly 
and luxurious pieces. Allegory, and mythological 
allegory in especial, as is well known, is one of 
the most inveterate habits of mind among the 
men of the seventeenth century : whether poets 
or no, historical painters or artists in other styles, 
they can no longer express themselves, hardly 

1 Fig. I, the central rosette. 

2 Fig, 2, eiiframement of the jlcnr-dc-lis. 

3 Fig. 2, the small centre panel. 

4 Drawer and legs of table, Fig. 58. 

5 Frieze of table in Fig. 21. 

6 Frieze of tables in Figs 22 and 59; chairs, Figs. 71 and 72. 

7 Fig. 6. 



even think, without mythology breaking in ; and 
for everybody, as for Boileau, 

Chaqtic vertu devient line divinite, 

Mincrve est la prudence, et Venus la heaute . . . 

Vn 01 age terrible aux yctix dcs matelots, 

C est Neptune en courronx qui gourmande lesfiots, 

A great deal of furniture, especially that made 
for the King, is accordingly allegorical. Here 
we may see Louis XIV in the guise of Hercules 
or Apollo, and Maria Theresa as Diana, on two 
cabinets, of which one is the Temple of Glory 
and the other the Temple of Virtue; at Ver- 
sailles there is a Cabinet of Peace, and a Cabinet 
of War, etc., etc. 

But what is much more common is the use of 
masks and mascarons. The difference between 
them is that a mask is a head in half relief, seen 
full face, but a noble and beautiful head, while 
a mascaron is a *' grotesque," a "head made 
according to whimsy," in which elements of 
vegetable life are mingled with the human 
features, and most frequently it is the face of a 
satyr. The beard of this satyr is often long, 
plaited, and forms a chute. Thus, in the 
ornamentation of the small gilt table, reproduced 
in Fig. 22, the female head that adorns the 
middle of the frieze is a mask ; ^ the satyrs' heads 
on the legs are mascarons. A mask or mascaron 
is often crowned and in a fashion aureoled with 
a palm-leaf ornament raying out (to which the 
fontange has a strong resemblance), whose lobes 

I So also the fine bronzes on the sides of the commode 
Fig. 17. 


are decorated in various ways. This same palm 
leaf may also form a collarette below the mask. 

The animal kingdom is largely put under 
contribution, " noble animals," of course: there 
are lion's heads,^ lion's spoils — from theNemean 
Hon, lion's paws, lion's claws ; ^ ram's heads, ram's 
horns more or less conventionalised,^ cloven 
stag's hoofs.^ Then we have the fantastic animals 
of mythology, dolphins, sphinxes, sea-horses, 
griffins, etc. The escutcheons on the keyholes 
of simple cupboards and buffets, made of iron, 
shaped and modelled with the file and then 
roughly engraved, often allow us to recognise 
the old motive of the winged dragon, though 
very degenerate/ and in other cases the dolphin.^ 
And the scallop shell is almost ubiquitous.^ It is 
Saint James's shell, the pilgrim's shell, but we 
meet it in a hundred modifications ; between 
this and the palmette there exists every imagin- 
able intermediate shape. It is convex, showing 
its outer and not its inner side, but the edges are 
turned over outwards. 

In the vegetable kingdom the acanthus is 
almost the only subject sufficiently classical to be 
employed, but what variety of resources does it 

1 Ornament (known as a nnceau) on the base of the commode 
Fig. 54. 

2 Feet of cupboard, Fig 45. 

3 The ram's horn motive, much conventionalised and modified, 
can be recognised on each side of the mask on the table, Fig. 22. 

4 Legs of table. Fig. 22, etc. 

5 Cupboard, Fig. 9, etc. 

6 Base of cupboard. Fig. 14. 

7 Base of cupboard. Fig. 14; chair, Fig. 39. 


not offer to the artist in ornament ! It bends 
itself to everything, takes every shape : rinceaux, 
stems, florets, rosettes, croziers, boucles. The 
palmette has nov^ only very distant links with a 
palm leaf ; it is made v^ith ribbons, or cut out of 
leather rather than anything else, and anyhow it 
is often called a queue de paon^^ " peacock's tail." 
We find also a water lily leaf, especially in friezes 
of gilt bronze, twigs of oak or laurel or olive, 
liHes and sunflowers,^ which owe their inclusion 
to their symbolism. Garlands, known in the 
seventeenth century as ^* festoons,"^ were made up 
of fruits, and roses, and narcissi, and flowers of no 
clear species. If in the decorations made with 
marquetry of coloured woods we find a little 
more variety and realism, tulips, tuberoses, 
anemones, it is because here wc are dealing with 
an imitation of Dutch models.^ But where we 
find every kind of beast — birds, lizards, butter- 
flies, caterpillars, insects — and many different 
flowers represented " in natural colours," is on 
tables of stone mosaic, precisely because in this 
case the realism is a regular '^ tour de force," and 
so claimed as a beauty. 

There remain the ornaments inspired by things 
made by man. The greatest number are again 
borrowed from architecture. Since the middle 

1 Fig. 17, exterior angles of drawers. 

2 Fig. I, small sunflower in the middle of the rosette. 

3 Boileau is speaking of garlands when he says, " cc nc sontque 
festons, cc nc sont qu'ustmgalcs." As for the astragales he 
merely threw them in for luck, for the sake of the rhyme. 

4 Commode, Fig. 18. 


ages, furniture has never ceased to imitate a 
house or a church. This is true in a less degree 
under Louis XIV than under Louis XIII, less 
under the Bourbons than under the Valois, but 
still the imitation is there ; it was in the Louis 
XV period that it came to a stop for a time. 
At the outset of the reign, there was still many 
a cabinet crowned with balusters and trophies 
like the Palace of Versailles, that carried engaged 
pillars on its fagade, or pilasters with Corinthian 
capitals, and niches for statuary. Cupboards 
were topped with great projecting cornices, like 
the Strozzi Palace or the Farnese Palace ; ' but 
there was a clear and increasing tendency to 
abandon these practices. The pillar vanished, 
and no hint of it is left save the flutings that 
adorn the rounded arrises of the early commodes.^ 
The baluster, on the other hand, of round or 
square section, was in high favour for legs of 
tables and seats.^ The console was employed 
almost everywhere, both as a support ^ and as a 
mere ornament.^ It was often extravagantly 
wrenched out of shape, as for example by the 
unhappy complication of making the two scrolls 
in which it terminates, or the curves that recall 

1 Observe the ressaults and decrochcmcnts of the cornices, so 
beloved of baroque architecture, in the top of the cupboard in 
Fig. 10 and the buffet in Fig. II. 

2 Figs. 17 and 19. 

3 Table, Fig. 21 ; bureau, Fig. 27; arm-chair, Fig. 31 ; chair, 
Fig. 3 J etc. 

4 Arms of arm-chairs, Figs. 72 and 73 ; legs of arm-chairs, 
Figs. 32, 61, 62. 

5 Stretcher of table, Fig. 22, and of the arm-chair, Fig. 31. 


the scrolls, move in the same instead of in 
opposite directions/ Two of these unnatural 
consoles placed end to end originated the 
bracket-shaped accolade found in table legs and 
in the cross pieces between the legs of simplified 
seats.^ Modillions and denticules appear under 
certain cornices. The Doric triglyphs, so 
common on Louis XVI furniture, were used by 
Boulle and his rivals ; they were known roundly 
as " cuisses et canaux.^^ 

Among other objects that furnished orna- 
mental motives ancient weapons must be men- 
tioned : the glaive, bow and quiver, naval buckler, 
the Boeotian helmet ; mythological attributes : 
tridents, caducei, thunderbolts, scythes, all the 
equipment of the gods ; trophies of musical 
instruments, fishing, hunting, and agricultural 
implements : but all these are much less em- 
ployed than in the eighteenth century. Lastly, 
the knot of ribbon,^ and very commonly the 
motive known to us as a lambrequin^ an 
imitation of a strip of stuff cut with deep 
hanging scallops. This was called a campane 
in the seventeenth century, and a single one of 
these scallops, shaped like the panels arrondis 
par le bout described above, and often adorned 
with fringe, was called a bout de campane, 
^ovS}i&h gaines d"* applique * were often decorated 
with large bouts de campane in colours. 

1 Legs of chair, Fig. 39, etc. 

2 Table, Fig. 26; seats, Figs. 34, 36, etc. 

3 Table, Fig. 21. 


Over the composition, the use, and the hand- 
ling of these various motives there presides the 
sacrosanct spirit of symmetry ever and always. 
For those minds and those eyes that have the 
passion for regularity, symmetry v^ith reference to 
a vertical axis is not enough — ^they demand it 
with reference to a horizontal axis as well. We 
have pointed out those mouldings on cupboard 
bases which correspond exactly to the mouldings 
of the cornice. Note also those examples of 
wood panelling, whose top is identical with the 
bottom (Figs, i and 2), that little cupboard 
(Fig. 3), which might very comfortably be placed 
upside down ; and again those table legs shaped 
like a bracket on end (Fig. 26), that chair back 
(Fig. 39), whose lower traverse has the same 
curve as the upper one. The Empire period, 
however, will be even more infatuated with these 
exact counterpoises. 

As for colour in furniture, it seems clear that 
under Louis XIV people's eyes, like their other 
senses, were less fine, less sensitive to shocks than 
in the days of Louis XV, or, more especially, in 
the days of Louis XVL We have already seen 
that the magnificent hangings that people loved 
to surround themselves with were often of bright 
colours, and very glaring colours, set against each 
other in bands or compartments, and no dis- 
cordancy was shrunk from. Herewith are a few 

When the Abbe d'Effiat died, in 1698, he had 
in his flat in the Arsenal a bed whose tour 


or draperies (curtains, honries graces^ scalloped 
hangings round the top, and valances) were of 
violet velvet, and the inside furnishings (foot, 
head and counterpane) of yellow satin. In the 
same room the seats were covered, some in violet 
velvet, the others in white and gold brocade, 
with one finally in crimson velvet. The colour 
called aurore was high in favour ; according to 
Furetiere, it was " a certain dazzling golden 
yellow." Here is what it was matched with. 
This same Abbe d'EfHat had a room, the chairs 
in which were covered with Lyons brocatelle, 
"aurora-coloured with red flowers." In the 
Tuileries there was a hanging of aurora and green 
damask. In the Chateau du Val the bench seats 
in the King's cabinet were aurora Ven.tian broca- 
telle flowered in green. 

^JMme. de Maintenon had a weakness for a 
combination of red and green. Her chamber at 
Versailles had a hanging of damask with crimson 
and green stripes ; her bed displayed green and 
gold without and crimson within ; a five-fold 
screen had three green and two red leaves. The 
seats were striped red and green, their wooden 
parts green picked out in gold. Lastly, here is 
the description of her famous " niche " from the 
Inventory of the Crown Furniture : '' An oak 
niche, five feet ten inches long by two feet ten 
inches deep and eight feet and a half high, 
furnished inside with four widths of red damask 
and three widths of gold and green damask, 
joined with ^ narrow gold galoon on the seams, 


and outside with three widths of gold and green 
damask and two widths and a stripe of red 
damask similarly joined with a small gold galoon." 
Inside it there was a rest-bed, with a crimson 
coverlet lined with green. 

Tables, the wooden portions of seats, and 
gueridons were all to match; painted red and 
green and gold, or blue and gold ; lacquered " in 
the Chinese fashion," or, which was the same 
thing, "in the manner of porcelain," ix.^ lac- 
quered white with blue decoration : we may 
figure to ourselves furniture something like the 
early manner of Rouen earthenware. 

But, towards the close of the reign the taste 
for pure soft colour appears to prevail little by 
little, at the same time as wood panelling begins 
in many homes to take the place of the hangings 
of bright-hued stuffs. Speaking of the colour 
proper for painting wainscoating, the architect 
dAviler wrote in 1691, "the most beautiful 
colour is white, because it increases the light and 
rejoices the eyes." 

The technique of furniture making was en- 
riched with no important novelties in the second 
half of the seventeenth century, but practices 
that had been still rare about 1650 became quite 
usual. Such were the gilding of wood, veneering, 
marquetry, the upholstering of seats, to say 
nothing of royal and princely caprices like furni- 
ture of solid silver. 


Our master joiners, worthy successors to the 
good huchiers of bygone days, had for a long 
time had nothing to learn when they were given 
a new problem to solve — the making of very 
large cupboards. So well did they acquit them- 
selves, that these monumental pieces are to-day 
carrying on their loyal service in provincial 
houses, without having interrupted them for a 
moment during more than two centuries. What 
furniture of the present day can look forward 
to such a destiny ? The joiners then continued to 
create for their customers of moderate means these 
excellent and handsome pieces of pure carpentry 
work. But in the circles where people plumed 
themselves on refinement and elegance, there 
was a tendency to prefer a more brilliant surface 
decoration in furniture, the effect of colouring 
taking the place of the effect got by working in 

Furniture of gilded wood, or rather gilded in 
part, was not unknown to our ancestors, even in 
the fourteenth century, but it was very un- 
common down to the seventeenth century. Italy, 
of course, that motherland of every kind of 
magnificence, was the first to think of full- 
gilding the bed, seats, tables, frames, candelabra, 
everything in short in a state chamber that was 
made of wood, and this taste did not fail to find 
its way into France. It would certainly have 
been a dream wish of Louis XIV to have furni- 
ture of solid gold ; failing which he had silver, 
and, later on, gilded wood. The director of 


gilding at the Gobelins was an important person- 
age, le Sieur de la Baronniere. Gilding was then 
carried out a la detrempe^ and was a complicated 
affair. First of all, the wood was treated in the 
same way as that in which panels had been got 
ready for painting pictures in the days before 
canvas. To begin with, it was coated with size, 
and then with one thin layer after another of 
blanc, whiting melted down with skin glue, then 
a coat of yellow, then one of the assiette^ into 
whose composition there entered not less than 
six or seven glutinous materials cunningly com- 
pounded ; and then last of all leaf gold was laid 
on, and nothing remained to do but to burnish 
it. Furniture was silvered also : the throne of 
Louis XIV, after the great melting down of his 
plate, was silvered wood ; and, so too in many 
cases were the caryatides or termes that upheld 
the tables on which fine cabinets were placed. 
This gilding of carved pieces is so familiar to us 
that an effort is needed to understand just to 
what degree it is an aesthetic heresy. 

It is a heresy characteristic of a period that 
preferred richness, whether real or seeming, of 
material to the far higher kind of beauty that 
the work of the tool gave to materials that were 
already beautiful indeed, but with no intrinsic 
money value, materials like oak and walnut. 
Hence came veneering and marquetry side by 
side with gilding. The Louis XIII period had 
known an intermediate stage between solid fur- 
niture of joiners' work and veneered furniture. 


This was seen in ebony cabinets, in which the 
precious wood was glued on to the common 
wood, but in sheets of sufficient thickness to allow 
of their being carved in bas-relief and lightly 
moulded. Veneering made its appearance at the 
same time. Its technique has never changed, 
except that mechanical processes of cutting up 
wood makes it possible to-day to obtain sheets of 
much greater thinness. But by itself veneering 
does not give enough richness ; and recourse was 
had to marquetry. 

Wood marquetry^ was not carried out in the 
same way as it is to-day. The panel to be 
decorated was first of all covered completely 
with the wood intended for the background, and 
next, the artist cut out with penknife or burin 
the place for the decorative motive, the various 
parts of which were shaped with a fret-saw and 
then glued in their proper places. Without being 
very extensive, the range of colours at the disposal 
of the ebemste — the word came into current use 
precisely when that austere wood ebony went 
out of fashion — aheady was of a certain richness. 
Almond and box gave him yellows, holly a 
pure white ; certain pearwoods red ; walnut all 
the browns ranging to black ; Saint Lucia wood 
a pinkish grey. And he could colour his wood in 
graded browns by *' shading" it with fire. 

Finding these colours dull, the ouvrters en 

I BouUe made use of it at the same time as marquetry with 
shell and metals. In the Louvre there is a cupboard by him, 
decorated with fine bouquets of flowers in vases, made of 
marquetry in wood on a ground of tortoise-shell. 


bois de rapport devised the plan, an atrocious 
one from the point of view of technique, and 
open to discussion as regards beauty, of calling in 
other materials, such as brass and pev^rter, which 
had already been used (like bone, ivory and 
mother of pearl) for inlaying, and especially as 
fillets to outline compartments ; tortoise-shell, 
and lastly transparent and colourless horn, painted 
in vivid colours on the back. These, with gilded 
bronze in the shape of appliques, were the 
resources of the '' palette," if we may risk the 
phrase, of Andre-Charles-Boulle. He used also 
fine stones, though very sparingly. 

His method of working was as follows. The 
structure and frame of his furniture is quite 
coarsely made, and generally of deal. On this 
wood he glued a sheet of paper rubbed over with 
red or black, and over this paper the various 
pieces of his marquetry, obtained in the following 
way : if he intended to make a panel in which a 
motive of rtnceaux in brass should show on a 
ground of tortoise-shell, he glued lightly together 
a sheet of copper, a sheet of tortoise-shell, and 
the sheet of paper on which he had made out his 
design ; he then sawed out the whole together, 
unfastened them, and in this way had his ground 
in duplicate, both of shell and brass, and his 
ornament in duplicate also, brass and tortoise-shell. 
He then glued the tortoise-shell ground and the 
brass ornament on his wooden foundation, and 
last of all the bronze appliques were affixed. He 
then had the brass ground and the shell orna- 


ments left unused, and with these he made a 
new piece, identical in design with the first one, 
but with the reverse combination of materials. 
This second piece, less valuable than the first, 
was called the counterpart, de conire-partie ; the 
first was said to be de premiere partie, Usualle 
a piece was not completely either one or the 
other, but elements of both kinds were combined 
in the work. 

Unhappily there is no solidity in it. Metals 
do not take kindly to glue, and all these hetero- 
geneous materials behave in different ways in 
heat and damp. These pieces therefore demand 
continual restorations, and are not even to be 
used: they are simply for museums. 

To add the last touches to their sumptuous- 
ness, and give them at the same time that 
allegorical significance which was so appreciated 
in his day, Boulle added to these pieces appliques 
of gilt bronze, often admirable at every point for 
their casting, their chasing and their gilding 
alike. Some distinction must be made in these 
bronzes. If we examine them carefully, we see 
that some of them are ornaments pure and 
simple, while others serve to strengthen the 
piece, to protect it from being knocked about, 
and to resist the strain and play of the wood. 
For example, the sort of square pieces at the 
angles of doors have their use; they serve to 
reinforce the juncture of the upright and the 
traverse, metal frames take the place of the 
useful projections made by the mouldings used 


by the joiner cabinet-makers. Other bronzes 
play the part of braces. Once admitting the 
principle of these superadded ornaments, it was 
a wholesome and logical notion to make them 
contribute to the solidity of the piece ; we shall 
see this acted on, and much better, by the 
cabinet-makers of the Regency style. But at 
bottom it was a throwing back of several centuries 
to the methods of the unskilled hutchers of the 
thirteenth century, who did not know how to 
put their coffers together strongly and solidly, 
and so clamped their boards in position by means 
of iron braces. 

We have seen how the taste for bright colours 
led to the painting of many pieces of furniture ; 
and the admiration lavished on the lacquers of 
the Far East, and the desire to copy them or 
simply to imitate them, ended in the discovery of 
the process of lacquering. Foucquet and Mazarin 
already had furniture " of the Chinese fashion," 
but a native of Liege, called Dagly, invented a 
kind of lacquer of great brilliancy and solidity, 
a discovery that opened the doors of the Gobelins 
to him, and this was known as the " vernis des 
Gobelins." At the close of the reign the staff of 
the factory included a ''Directeur des ouvrages 
de la Chine," and great efforts were made to 
imitate black and gold lacquer ware, which was 
to be achieved a little later, in exquisite per- 
fection, by the celebrated Martin. 


The group of panelled furniture was augmented 
during the period of the Louis XIV style by 
very important items, the great cupboard in one 
piece, the sideboard cupboard, the dresser-side- 
board, the under-cupboard, the bookcase, andthe 
commode. On the other hand, the coffer was 
packed off into garrets by the city folk, and was 
only made now for country people ; and the 
cabinet, which taken all in all and in its origin, 
was merely a costly coffer elaborated and mounted 
on a wall table, disappeared for good. 

These births and deaths, so to speak, arise 
from a great change in manners. Down to the 
middle of the seventeenth century, our fore- 
fathers' way of living kept traces of the half 
nomad existence of the middle ages, those times 
when, for instance, a man of rank, the lord of 
three separate chateaux, had only one set of 
furniture for all three, and took everything he 
possessed with him when he went from one to 
the other. His possessions were so few, and it 
would have been so unwise to leave anything 
behind that could be pillaged ! Pieces of furni- 
ture therefore that were meant as receptacles 
(what we call panelled furniture), were small and 



sufficiently portable to be loaded on to a pack- 
horse. Hence the persistence of the coffer, so 
inconvenient in itself; hence the quite small 
cupboard of the sixteenth century, made in two 
parts, one on top of the other, which merely 
became larger, without change of structure, in 
the Louis XIII period, and hence too the handles 
to be seen on the sides of so many coffers and 
even of some cupboards. 

But under Louis XIV affairs were more 
stationary and settled ; people moved less 
readily from place to place, even though it was 
easier to do so, and they had infinitely more 
things to lock away, clothes, linen, etc., than the 
preceding generations. And so large furniture 
makes its appearance, and in particular the large 
cupboard with one or two doors. There had 
always been but few in Paris, and no trouble had 
been taken to make handsome things of them,^ 
because the habit of receiving visitors in the 
bedchamber was given up earlier in Paris than 
in the provinces, because in Paris people had 
garde-robes^^ and because women there did not 
take so much pride and invest a large proportion 
of their dowries in imposing piles of blankets and 
napkins. But among the ladies of provincial 
chateaux and business circles, and farmers' wives 
when they became well off, the great cupboard, 
as great and as handsome as possible, was the 

1 And in consequence the few that did exist were not 

2 At Paris, a gavde-rohe was a small room adjoining the bed- 
chamber ; in the South it was a great cupboard. 



essential piece of furniture, a thing they were 
proud to have and to display. Many of these 
Louis XIV cupboards, more imposing than 
attractive, are superb in their lines and pro- 
portions, impeccable in their architecture, and 
without rivals in decorative value in a huge 
room, the hall of a chateau, or a great country 

Those of the pure Louis XIV style — ^v^hich 
does not necessarily mean that they v^ere made 
before 171 5 — can be recognised by their cornice, 
which is nearly always horizontal, projects very 
far, and shows a complicated style of moulding ; 
by their rectangular doors, subdivided into flat 
panels of shapes already described, and lastly by 
their feet, which are sometimes flattened balls ^ 
or burly volutes ^ or lions paws,^ when they have 
a reversed cornice at the base going round three 
sides ; sometimes they are merely a prolonging of 
the uprights, cut off short.^ They display no 
carving, or but very little. The models dating 
from the end of the style, and '' approaching the 
Regency manner," as the dealers say, allow a few 
curves in their structure as a whole: these are 
the most agreeable to the eye, such as the fine 
model of Fig. 10, in which those inflected lines, 
which are yet very restrained, come in so happily 
to soften the silhouette. 

Cupboards from the different provinces had 

1 Figs. 4, 5, 7, etc. 

2 Figs. 10 and 5. 

3 Fig. 45. 

4 Figs. 6 and 8. 


not yet, in the period to which our attention is 
directed, any very marked differences. What 
then distinguished the furniture of one region 
from that of another was the fact that the new 
style had aheady or had not as yet arrived, 
rather than any different shades in the style itself. 
Let us note, however, that the cupboards made 
in the South-west ^ are distinguished by their 
abundant mouldings ; those of Lorraine ^ by the 
somewhat frequent use of very simple marquetry 
or inlay in coloured woods, and the quadrilobate 
medallion ; and Normandy cupboards ^ by their 
elegant proportions, their delicate carving and 
their classic cornices with denticles. 

The small cupboard in two parts and with two 
volets or doors, and the larger one with four 
doors, were still made, but less and less often, and 
they almost always display the characteristics of 
the Louis XIII style. Nevertheless we reproduce, 
in Fig. 3, a graceful little Norman example with 
two doors, a bonnetilre or bonnet cupboard if 
you like, which clearly has the marks of the 
Louis XIV manner. 

Furniture became specialised at the same time 
as the rooms in flats. Here is the has d^armoire^* 
or under-cupboard, with or without a drawer in 
the upper part, the name of which recalls its 
resemblance to the lower section of the cupboards 

1 Figs. 4, 7, and 9. 

2 Fig. II. Note the same or an analogous motive on cup- 
boards or sideboards from Lorraine, Figs. 46, 49 and 57. 

3 Fig. 6. 

4 Fig. 14. 


made in two parts. Those we meet with to-day 
are very often in reality the lower halves of old 
cupboards whose top sections have been destroyed. 
They were used in antechambers, and in certain 
districts (at Paris in particular and in the South, 
where they were presently to give birth to the 
buffet-credence of the Aries region) as a sideboard 
in the dining-room or the kitchen, which for many 
people were the same thing. The bas d'armoire, 
sometimes called a demi-biffet, a half- sideboard, 
was about four feet in height, and varied greatly 
in width ; there were some that had three doors. 
Books had heretofore been kept in ordinary 
cupboards or shelves, or simply piled along the 
wall. At the end of the seventeenth century 
the numbers of books in the houses even of people 
of no great culture were greatly increased, and 
the need of devoting a special piece of furniture 
to them was strongly felt : so the bookcase was 
born, at first known as a "bookcase cupboard." 
Already we have made the acquaintance of 
Boileau's three bookcases. As people in those 
days were not so cramped for space in their 
homes as we are, and as their books were not so 
overwhelming in numbers, it was not necessary 
to run them up to a great height — a method 
that is far from convenient, and is full of danger 
for the books, as it multiplies the risks of falling. 
The book cupboard therefore was an under- 
cupboard, a little taller than usual; its doors 
were fitted with a trellis made of iron wire, 
behind which there was a curtain of pleated 


taffeta. A little later they were glazed as well, 
andBouUe made some of this kind, in marquetry. 
We may note here that the bookcases standing 
breast high, made by Boulle or his imitators, that 
to-day adorn the Gallery of Apollo in the Louvre, 
were originally cabinets that were dismounted 
from their supports when in the nineteenth 
century they were employed in the decoration of 
the chateau of Saint- Cloud. This massacre, like 
so many more, must be written down against 

The sideboard in two sections ^ is, in a larger 
shape, the old cupboard with four doors, with or 
without drawers between the two sections. It 
has all the characteristics of the cupboard. The 
upper doors are always of wood. We seize the 
opportunity to repeat this ; for it is sheer van- 
dalism to mutilate these fine old pieces by tearing 
out their wooden panels to replace them with 
glazing. The huffet-vaisselier ^ or dresser-side- 
board, which was the palier of Normandy and 
the menager of Champagne, with all its varieties, 
was certainly not invented before the Regency. 
And yet we show one,* of a very graceful and 
individual type, which was made in Lorraine, and 
may be said to be in the Louis XIV style by 
reason of its ball-shaped feet. It is a curious 
combination of the sideboard, the dresser, and 
the commode. The folk of Lorraine have always 
loved these huge pieces of manifold utility. 

The coffers of the Louis XIV period are very 
I Fig. 12. 2 Fig. 13. 


simple, and very far fallen from their sixteenth 
century splendours ; they are generally mounted 
on a set of legs with a drawer.^ The most 
interesting were covered in leather, pigskin, or 
cowhide, sometimes red morocco, with a cunning 
decoration of gilt nails. This decorative studding 
often showed very remarkable composition, as 
may be seen on the coffer in Fig. 16, with its royal 
crown and fleurs de lis. The keyhole escutcheon 
is a large plate of repousse and open-worked brass. 
Let us salute, for the last time before its total 
disappearance, the cabinet, which was beginning 
to go out of fashion about 1690, after having been 
for three-quarters of a century pre-eminently 
the piece of furniture of supreme elegance, and 
especially affected by ladies, the article upon 
which wild sums of money and treasures of in- 
genuity were expended, which had gratified so 
much vanity when opened so as to allow its 
interior refinement to be admired. We have 
told of the mineralogical lavishness of certain 
among them which must have been, and which 
were, excessively ugly: we can judge of this from 
a specimen displayed in the Cluny Museum. 
There were many much less ambitious examples 
that were charming ; for example, those which the 
arquebuse makers inlaid with the most delicate 
arabesques in bone or ivory on ebony and violet 
wood. Those which were quite simple continued 
to be made in the Louis XIII style, with pilasters 
and other architectural motives. 
I Fig. 15, 


Of all the novelties the commode was the 
one called to the most brilliant career. Some 
authorities will have it that it originated in the 
coffer, others in the under-cupboard, still others 
in the table. A grave problem, of the same kind 
as the puzzle whether the sofa is a rest-bed 
transformed, or a bench carried to perfection. 
What is quite certain is that it was invented 
round about the year 1700; that some persons 
of the time called it a bureau-commode ; that 
Madame, the Regent's mother, in a letter dated 
171 8, still thought it needed definition: "A 
commode is a large table with drawers." Would 
it then be a table to which drawers had been 
added? But here is Sobry, almost at the same 
moment, writing in his Architecture-, "Coffers 
or arks are commonly called commodes. Some 
have a lid, others have drawers." However it may 
be, they deserved their name so well that they 
were presently everywhere to be seen. 

Boule made some famous ones, known as com- 
anodes en tombeau^ because their main shape with 
two drawers is in the form of the sarcophagi 
that were placed on the tombs of that period. 
These are, it must be confessed, very pretentious 
and irrational compositions. Others with three 
drawers, massive, of excessively chubby contours 
and with angles displaying the pied de biche or 
" doe's foot " outline, will only have to gain a 
little simplicity and more disciplined and slender 
outlines to become the beautiful " Regency 
commode." Finally, there is a last family of 


those superb and costly commodes in brass and 
tortoise-shell marquetry that came out of the 
workshops of the Boulles ; these have four drawers, 
are rectangular, with a straight fagade and vertical 
uprights. The contrast of the austere simplicity 
of the lines with the amazingly sumptuous 
decoration of the surfaces is extremely effective ; 
but how icy chill it all is ! 

On the other hand, certain commodes of this 
time, more moderate in richness, have a really 
grandiose beauty, like the one we see in Fig. 17, 
whose beautiful broadly chased bronzes are so 
happily placed, and so well enframed by the 
sober marquetry, and upon which the flutings on 
the angles, fitted with brass and starting from 
an acanthus stem, set such noble architectural 
lines. The piece shown in the next plate. Fig. 18, 
supremely simple in its construction, owes all its 
interest to its slightly enlivened fagade and its 
superb marquetry of coloured wood made up 
of bouquets and rinceaiix of flowers: a florid, 
branchy decoration that was certainly inspired by 
some Netherlandish model. The ground is ebony, 
the flowers of white and red pearwood, holly and 

* >r «t * * 

Beds of the Louis XIV period are extremely 
rare, and this is very natural. Their monumental 
size — some were 2 metres 25 centimetres long, 
2 metres 20 centimetres wide, and 3 metres 
50 centimetres high — was the cause of their 
destruction as soon as the fashion for bedroom 

BEDS 73 

of moderate dimensions arrived. Furthermore, 
the wooden bed, inasmuch as it was completely 
covered up in stuffs, had no artistic value that 
might save it ; and lastly, they were almost all 
four-posters, "a hauts piliers,"^ and this shape 
was already beginning to appear " Gothic " in 
the eighteenth century. 

These edifices were be-curtained with a costly 
luxuriousness of stuffs of which we can now have 
no idea, embroideries, fringes, cords, gold tassels, 
and plumes of feathers. In the homes of people 
of quality or of wealthy business people the state 
bed had often cost more than all the rest of the 
furniture ; by the bed the fortune might be 
known ; with the carriage it was the most con- 
vincing of all the signs of wealth. The hangings, 
tenture^ or parement^ or tour de lit, were 
almost always fashioned with wide vertical stripes, 
strongly defined, in which plain velvet, Genoa 
velvet with large flowers, brocade with palm 
branch pattern, and damask of three colours 
alternated with one another, or with embroidered 
stuffs ''so interwoven with gold that it was 
difficult to distinguish the ground," fine stitch 
tapestry "divided up into pictures by a line of 
silver embroidery," and other works of infinite 
patience. The equipment was extremely compli- 
cated, for every kind of bulwark against cold was 
multiplied. A bed in those days was a small 
hermetically sealed chamber within the large one, 

I It was also known as "a quenoiiilles" in modem phrase 
ii colonncs. 


into which there could penetrate neither the 
draughts that made even the King's bedchamber 
in Versailles almost uninhabitable in winter, nor 
the indiscreet eyes of people obliged to pass at 
all hours through those rooms that had no side 
entrances, nor the continual clatter and noise of 
those days in which no one had the slightest idea 
of privacy. 

The four pillars, covered in sheaths known as 
quenouilles^ supported a tester called iht/ond, 
always elaborately decorated, and surrounded by 
four curtain rods, from which there hung the 
dossier against the wall, and curtains to the 
number of three, four, six, and even eight. The 
rods were hidden on the outside by the three 
pentes de dehors^ and on the inside by the four 
tentes de dedans^^ which were bands of stuff 
hanging down, with straight or scalloped edges. 
On each side of the head, and on each side of 
the foot there were narrow supplementary cur- 
tains, the bonnes graces^ falling straight down 
alongside the pillars, on the outside of the large 
curtains which they hide when the latter are 
pulled open ; the bonnes graces were very often 
made of a stuff whose colour made a strong 
contrast against that of the curtains. Narrower 
still, the cantonnieres at the angles complete the 
sealing process by covering the chink that might 
be found at that point. The bed itself, properly 

I The bed in Fig. 20 has six curtains, two bonnes graces 
cantonnieres, a fo)id, seven pontes, a great dossier, a dossier 
chantourne (see further on), and a counterpane. 


speaking (chdlit or bedstead, paillasse^ sommier^ 
mattress, feather-beds, blankets and quilt), was 
hidden by the soubassement, the valance, which 
runs round it on three sides, and by the counter- 
pane, always very richly ornate, which covered 
it over. 

To recapitulate : four quenouilles^ a fond^ 
seven pentes^ a dossier^ eight curtains, four 
bonnes graces^ four cantonnieres, a soubasse- 
meni in three sections, a counterpane . . . the 
equipment of a really complete bed was made 
up of thirty-three component parts ! 

We must be careful not to forget the magni- 
ficent plumes, except for their colour exactly like 
those on our modern hearses, surmounting the 
bed posts. These four bouquets de plumes were 
made up of a round hundred ostrich feathers 
disposed around aigrettes of heron feathers ; they 
were white, green and white, green, yellow and 
white, whatever the colour of the bed might be. 
Sometimes they were replaced by knobs covered 
with stuff, as in the time of Louis XIII, or by 
vases from which stood up either metal bunches 
of flowers or little crystal branching candelabra. 

It may properly be repeated that beds of such 
splendour were never made for daily use, but 
were the ornament of the state chamber, which 
was the reception room in which all the luxury 
of the house was concentrated, the room in which 
the owners gave dinners and receptions. The 
fashion of the " ruelle," launched by the incompar- 
able Arthenice in the hey-day of the trecieuseSy 


took a long time to disappear, and more than 
one lady round about 1670, without in the least 
being a hehted precte74se, was still in the habit 
of receiving her women friends half reclining — 
fully dressed, not en deshabille — on her bed, or 
even in it. Furetiere, even while declaring that 
the habit was a thing of the past, wrote just 
before 1688 that the alcove was the part of the 
room " in which the bed and chairs for company 
were usually placed." And these fittings, made 
of stuffs that were often very delicate, and which 
represented a fortune, were protected by a 
whole paraphernalia of loose covers and coiffes — 
they were uncovered only on important occasions. 

Such was the Louis XIV bed, a perfect symbol 
of that period so taken with pomposity and 
marvels. Even when we run through the in- 
ventories of middle class business people, we are 
stupefied at the coquettish richness of their beds. 
It is all striped crimson velvet and silver moire, 
black velvet alternating with flame-coloured 
damask, curtains of gold and silver embroidery 
lined with cloth of silver, bon?ies grdces of 
English embroidery, scalloped pentes of gold and 
silk, soubassements of yellow taffeta, counter- 
panes of Chinese satin with gold embroidery, 
or Indian damasks. What kind of bed must 
M. Jourdain have had, he who, like his father, 
was a connoisseur in stuffs ! 

We have seen that Boileau's bed in his Paris 
house was nowise lacking in elegance, nor even in 
a certain stately splendour. His friend, Moliere, 


was far richer than he was, and the sumptuous- 
ness of his bed bordered on extravagance. It is 
true, that as the son of the King's tapissier^ and 
himself holding the reversion of that office, he 
owed it to himself not to be bedded like any 
casual pauper, and it is further true that play 
actors are not always folk of the quietest taste. 
And thus it was that his state best bed was " a 
couch with eagle feet in green bronze, with gilt 
and painted headpiece, carved and gilt ; a dome 
with azure ground, carved and gilt ; four knobs 
in shape of vases, also of gilded wood ; the dome 
aforesaid. . . ." But it is better to summarise 
this dreadful prose of some tipstaff and sergent 
h verge of the Chatelet. That majestic dome, 
azure and gold without, was decked inside with 
aurora and green taffeta ; from it there fell down 
an entour de lit of one single piece, aurora and 
green, in the shape of a pavilion or tent, with 
three widths of flax-grey {^gris de lin) taffeta 
embroidered in gold, to which were added, for 
no clear reason, yet four more curtains of flowered 
brocade with violet ground. The counterpane, 
gris de lin and gold, embroidered with ciphers, 
was lined vdth red toile boucassinee (a starched 
cotton material). And we spare the reader the 
tale of fringes, mollets^ embellishments, cords, 
tassels of fine gold, of imitation gold, green silk, 
aurora and gris de lin. 

The simplest beds, those belonging to people 
of modest estate, were hung with woollen stuffs, 
such as Aumale serge, green or red or '* dried- 


rose-leaf" colour; or of damas cafart, a 
mixture of wool and silk or cotton and silk, of 
Bruges satin with linen warp, and other " petty 
stuffs " that were sold in the rue Saint-Denis, 
close by the gate of Paris, from which they were 
known as etoffes de la Porte. 

Dome beds, such as Moliere's, were called 
h rimperiale ; tomb-beds, of an ugly shape 
that diminished still further the "cube of air " 
at the disposal of the sleepers, had much lower 
posts at the foot than at the head, which gave a 
sloped tester. The Dictionnaire de Trevoux 
gives an ingenious explanation of this shape : 
*'They were invented to be placed in garrets, 
because the roof prevented their being given the 
same height at the foot as at the head." And 
they are always, in reality, beds of a very modest 

All beds were not four-posters. The duchess- 
bed had a hanging tester, as long and as wide as 
the couch, two curtains and two bonnes gr dees ; 
the angel-bed tester was shorter, and the side 
curtains were caught back by loops of knotted 
ribbons, the galants. The bed standing at 
present in the chamber of Louis XIV at Ver- 
sailles was reconstructed under Louis Philippe 
with no great accuracy: it is a duchess-bed, while 
the Sun-King's bed was invariably a four-poster. 

At the close of the reign beds had a double 
dossier^ both head and foot. TYit grand dossier 
was a breadth of stuff fastened to the tester and 
hanging flat against the wall at the head of the 


bed ; in front of this was a dossier of shaped 
wood, standing up from the frame of the bed- 
stead, and with a loose cover of embroidered 
stuff; its compHcated outHne procured it the 
name of curved dossier {dossier chantourne) or 
chantourne de Ht.^ It could also be of naked 
wood, carved and gilt. Lastly, about the same 
time came the fashion for disordered beds, 
whose hangings were rumpled and cunningly 
disarranged with much assistance from cords 
and gold tassels, like those emphatic draperies 
beloved of the portrait painters Rigaud and 
Largilliere, which the Marechal de Grammont 
neatly called "hyperboles in velvet.". 

The rest-bed, father of the chaise longue and 
the sofa, which at the outset was practically 
undistinguishable from it, had made its appear- 
ance in the days of Mazarin. It became quite 
usual under Louis XIV, and Moliere had five in 
his house, one of which matched his great bed of 
state. Its average size was 2 metres long by 
80 centimetres wide. Set as a fixture by a wall, 
it often had at the head a high dossier of carved 
gilt wood and a tester like a duchess-bed, or 
an angel-bed ; it was sometimes fitted with 
permanent upholstery nailed on to the wood, 
sometimes a mattress or two mattresses on top 
of the other. Other rest-beds, more easy to 
handle, had two dossiers that occasionally were 

movable ones. 

* * « • * 

I Fig. 20. 


In the days of Mazarin tables ceased to be 
hidden under covers falling down to the floor, 
and . so they began to display a wholly new 
magnificence after the Italian fashion. No 
longer was there a set of furniture to be found, 
however modest, without a few tables with 
elaborate legs, stretchers, and friezes, laden with 
carvings that were most frequently gilded, and 
for their tops a marquetry-piece of wood and 
pewter or tortoise-shell and brass, or a slab of 
costly marble, granite, porphyry, or Oriental 
alabaster, or else a marquetry of many-coloured 
stone mosaic, framed in black marble or touch. 
These last kind were called " Florence tables." 
Mazarin brought them over from Italy, but 
Colbert suborned in Tuscany specialist craftsmen 
to come to the Gobelins and train French pupils. 
This sumptuous method of decoration, though 
prone to become a trifle loud, as may be seen 
at Versailles and in the Apollo Gallery, was made 
up of elaborate rinceaux, emblems, or flowers and 
birds in "natural" colours; the stone tesserae, 
which were laid with astounding accuracy and 
precision, were lapis lazuli, cornelian, jasper, 
chalcedony, and even mother of pearl. 

These tables were enormously heavy, and 
besides, they became an integral part of the 
decoration of a room. They were left accordingly 
permanently in place against the wall ; only 
three of their faces were seen, and the fourth was 
left without ornament. Since the legs were often 
shaped like the architectural consoles in fashion, 


as we have pointed out, at this period they were 
called " console tables," or more simply still, 
*' consoles "; and by an extension of idea, the 
name consoles de milieu was given to tables 
highly ornamented on all four faces, but made to 
stand out in the middle of a room. Finally, 
when consoles de milieu had become very 
common, the others were called consoles 
d applique. 

When not console-shaped, or double consoles 
(two consoles back to back) the legs of Louis XIV 
tables were en game or en balustre ^ (pedestal 
or baluster-shaped). Among the fifteen or so 
types of balusters used by architects, the cabinet- 
makers of course chose for their table legs those 
whose thickest part is above, urn-balusters and 
vase-balusters with square section, or the com- 
tosite renverse with circular section and gad- 
roons. They did not fail also to lengthen them 
according to their caprice or to make them as 
complicated as they pleased. The flat baluster, 
en fagade* was also very much used, as well as 
the pedestal shape. 

Besides these legs, which have a vertical axis, 
there was to be found, more and more frequently 
as the reign drew towards its end, the pied de 
biche or " doe's foot " with highly accentuated 
curve. At first it was made up of two long- 
drawn S-shaped curves, in continuation of one 
another back to back and each ending in two 
little volutes, the lower standing on a cloven 

I Fig. 21. 



stag's hoof, the upper often ornamented with a 
mascaron in hollow profile.^ The two curves 
were next coalesced into one. 

The frieze carries, on the fagade if it is a 
console d^ applique or wall table, on every side 
or the long sides if a simple table, an '' apron " 
(tablier) of ornaments cut out and carved in 
open-work, the centre-piece of which was usually 
a mask or mascaron ; the background of the 
frieze is lozenged.^ The cross pieces of the 
stretcher, which is seldom missing,^ were made of 
S curves or consoles ^ arranged in different com- 
binations: their line was too often lost under an 
excess of ornamental carving. 

Tables not so rich, but still very highly ornate, 
were made in natural or painted woods, and 
their tops also made of wood ; as for quite simple 
tables of the Louis XIV style there are practically 
none in existence: during the whole of the 
century tables continued to be made whose 
turned legs, whether twisted or not,^ cause them 
to be assigned to the Louis XIII period. " What 
is called a ' table column ' (colonne de table),^^ 
says Richelet in his Dictionnaire (1680), " is any 
piece of wood turned or twisted that serves to 
hold up the top part of a table." Nevertheless, 
here we have two, one ^ of quite countrified make, 

1 Fig. 22. 

2 Figs. 21 and 22. 

3 See, nevertheless, Fig. 21. 

4 Fig. 22. 

5 Figs. 23 and 24; the stretchers are clearly Louis XIV. 

6 Fig. 25. 


the other ^ more bourgeois in character, which 
can quite properly be called Louis XIV by reason 
of their supports, doe's feet en facade or upright 
bracket legs. The elegance and logic of this 
latter shape of leg are, to speak candidly, both 
extremely open to discussion. 

As it was not far from the time when the table 
was ordinarily a flat tray set on trestles, it was 
not yet fixed in people's minds that it formed an 
inseparable whole, and accordingly we often find 
in the inventories items such as '' a table of carved 
walnut, on its foot of the same wood," which 
does not mean a table in two parts ; and this 
explains oddities such as those tables whose top 
and frieze are walnut, while the legs and stretcher 
are of gilded wood. 

We saw how in the preceding period the genus 
table began to be subdivided into species. This 
evolution continued under the great King, and 
it was in his day that fit tie writing tables {en 
ecritoire) appeared, covered vdth black morocco, 
green panne or crimson velvet, with a drawer 
that held the inkstand and the brass pounce-box. 
Society was becoming more and more epistolary 
in its habits. 

We know how high the passion for gaming ran 
in this epoch, especially at Court, where the 
struggle against boredom was a desperate one. 
And so for hoca — '*that abominable hoca," 
Madame de Sevigne called it — for reversi, for 
basset, for brelan, for ombre, there were needed 
I Fig. 26. 


quantities JofJtabIes,|each specially planned^for 
its particular game, pentagonal, square, triangular, 
according to the number of the players ; they 
were covered in green velvet and sometimes fitted 
with purses, one in the middle and one for each 
player, and accompanied at each corner by a 
little gueridon on which a single or branching 
candlestick was placed. Gueridons to match also 
went with console tables and cabinets : these were 
not little round tables of the same height as the 
others, but tall candle bearers, often monumental 
in size, made of a support of gilded wood and a 
branching candelabrum of crystal or metal. 

There is one novelty that already round 1680 
announces the taste that will distinguish the 
eighteenth century for small, delicate, easily 
moved articles of furniture. This is the cabaret, 
'* called in Chinese bandege{\),''^ the most fre- 
quently used variety of which was the cabaret a 
cafe. This was the name given to a light table 
with two trays in " verms de Chine, ^"^ Chinese 
lacquer, used to carry and to pass round china, 
and coffee cups in particular. 

Toilet-tables and night-tables appeared towards 
the close of the reign ; there were fourteen of the 
former and twelve of the latter in the Chateau de 
Rambouillet when it was acquired by the Crown 
and furnished in 1706 for the Comte de Toulouse, 
the legitimate son of Madame de Montespan. A 
toilette was originally a square piece of linen, in 
which were gathered together for putting away 
in the night coffer {coffre de nuit) the various 


articles used in cleansing and beautifying the face 
the hair and the hands ; when the moment had 
come for them the toilette was laid out on any- 
table, its contents arranged in goodly array, and 
thereupon began the service of beauty. The 
modest square of linen did not fail to transmute 
itself into a little mat of crimson velvet with gold 
lace trimming, Isabella-coloured moire lined with 
aurora taffeta and embellished with a little gold 
or silver lace ; and men's toilettes were no less gay 
than the ladies'. Had not that genial gardener, 
Andre le Nostre, one of white satin, embroidered 
in silver and gold and silk? And then the toilette 
gave its name to the articles laid out on it, as to 
the operation for which they were used, and to 
the tables specially made to carry them, tables 
whose boxes or drawers replaced the night coffer. 
Ideas of cleanliness making some modest progress, 
there was a dessous de toilette permanently in 
position on the table in question, and made of 
costly materials, this was covered by a dessus de 
toilette in muslin with flounces or furbelows, 
which was easily changed. But it was only under 
Louis XV that the toilette became the pretty 
piece of furniture with compartments so well 
known to us. 

From the writing-table was born the bureau, 
from the first third of the seventeenth century. 
Already under Louis XIV it might be of various 
different forms. The flat bureau was a large 
writing-table, covered with leather, fitted with 
three drawers, and often accompanied by a little 


subsidiary article, the gradin^ made up of shelves 
or drawers, sometimes equipped with a door 
shutting with lock and key, which stood on one 
end of the table ; a little later there were also 
gradins^ called rather serre-papiers^ or paper- 
holders, larger in size, furnished with feet and 
standing on the ground beside the table. Other 
Louis XIV bureaux with multiple drawers were 
more or less like our ugly bureaux ministres\ 
but they are less heavy, carried as they are on 
eight fairly tall legs joined four and four by cross- 
shaped stretchers. Their decoration was ex- 
ceedingly painstaking and exquisite : veneering 
of walnut outlined in pewter, inlay of brass on 
ebony, on tortoise-shell, etc. ; Andre Charles 
Boulle has left us a great number of these. The 
top was either flat or a brisure ; ^ the angles of 
the sections to right and left were reinforced by 
those characteristic projecting buttresses whose 
curves give them the appearance of violins cut 
in two. One of the most perfect that ever came 
out of the Boulle workshops is in the Petit Palais, 
in the Dutuit collection. 

The most monumental of all are the scribannes. 
These imposing pieces, Flemish or Dutch in their 
origin, have a desk or flap, a niche for the legs of 
the person writing, drawers to the right and ]eft 
down to the ground ; the upper part is a cup- 
board with two doors, surmounted by a pediment 
with a platform for delft. The bureau shown 
in Fig. 27 is not quite so huge and important 

I With desk slope, 


as this, despite its score of drawers and its 
giiichet\ its style in any case has nothing 
Flemish about it. 

Ladies' bureaux, as is fitting, are smaller in 
size. Madame de Maintenon had two in her 
chamber, ^' of marquetry of pewter on a ground 
of walnut wood, with four drawers and a guichet 
in front with sloping flap and three drawers, 
standing on eight pedestal pillars of the same 
work with silvered wood capitals and bases." 
Their dimensions were two feet nine inches by 
one foot nine inches (89 by 57 centimetres). 
Bureaux of this kind are what are called in the 
modern dealers' jargon, " donkey backed " {a dos 
d^dne) ; the eighteenth century said bureaux ii 
tente^ "slanting bureaux." 


Here begins a chapter of very great importance 
when we are dealing with furniture under Louis 
XIV! If anyone cared to extract from Saint- 
Simon's Memoirs everything pertaining to the 
hierarchy of Seats, the jealousies, quarrels, in- 
trigues, secret conspiracies, usurpations, wrongs, 
vengeances, triumphs and humiliations that could 
spring out of the question of the right to the 
arm-chair or to the backed chair, to the high 
stool or the ordinary stool, he might fill more than 
one volume. Dangeau and Luynes are in every 
page busy over this thorny and engrossing ques- 
tion of the backed chair. Are folding stools and 
plain tabouret-stools equal in honour ? A serious 
business ; Saint- Simon decides learnedly that 
" there is no difference whatever between these 
two seats with neither arms nor back." If the 
duchesses are visiting in the apartments of a 
princess of the blood, they sit in arm-chairs ; but 
let the King come in and they must needs hasten 
to leave the arm-chairs, as having no longer any 
right to them in His Majesty's presence, and 
curtsy made, they must sit upon stools, quitted 
by ladies who are not duchesses, to whom in 
turn etiquette now only allows a hassock. This 
etiquette with regard to chairs is in any case, as 
may well be believed, no more elaborate at 
Versailles than at Madrid or in London ; on the 


contrary, the Court of France is the only one 
where the height of the chair back is of no 
consequence ; in every other European Court 
" the difference in the height of the chair-back 
marks the difference between persons." This is 
the order of precedence; at the bottom, the 
hassocks: those of noble ladies are adorned with 
gold gimp ; those for ladies of the law and the 
bourgeoisie have a mere silk edging. Next come 
folding stools and joint stools ; then the chairs 
with backs, and, last and highest, the arm-chair. 
Nothing is more significant than a Louis XIV 
arm-chair, except a Louis XIV bed: all the 
characteristics of the style, more than that even, 
the very character of the period itself is summed 
up in it. It is an ample, stately seat, of imposing 
size and strength ; its lofty rectangular back seems 
made to be the worthy frame for a majestic and 
virile head in a peruke, and for shoulders widened 
by the floods of ribbons of the '' petite oze,'' or 
for a woman's head crowned with the Apollo 
rays of the high head-dress known as the /ontange; 
its great size, the massive volutes of its arms, its 
legs joined heavily with heavy cross pieces, all give 
it an air of immobility and weight. We can see 
it remaining fixed in one place with a willing air, 
decorative, and useless, ranged with its peers 
along the wall of an alcove ; to have it moved it 
seems as though one must call up a pair of lackeys, 
and two great clumsy fellows with gold lace on 
every seam must bring it forward with due 
solemnity. To see it evokes the idea of choice 


conversation, full of ceremony and well regulated, 
stiff attitudes, and snuff taken with delicately 
studied gestures. What a difference compared to 
a gondola-shaped bergere of the following reign, 
all grace and comfort, all made up of fugitive 
elusive curves that slip away without bringing the 
eye to a halt ! 

Impossible not to speak first of all of the king 
of arm-chairs ... we mean the throne of Louis 
XIV. Let us salute it as we go by, even as anyone 
would have been obliged to do if in the Grands 
Appartements at Versailles he crossed the Apollo 
Salon, also known as the " Chamber of the dais." 
It stood upon a platform with several steps, sur- 
mounted by a dais all gold embroidery of over- 
whelming richness ; before the great melting 
down of plate in 1689-90 it was all solid silver, 
draped with crimson velvet ; for feet it had four 
figures of children carrying baskets of flowers 
upon their heads ; on the summit of the back, 
which was eight feet high, about 2 metres 60 
centimetres, a laurel-crowned Apollo held his lyre. 
To go with this there was a hanging of eight 
great widths of embroidered stuff with eighteen 
pilasters, all dull silver and bright gold, with a 
trifle of chenille, and flanking it to right and left 
— our imagination fails before the task of picturing 
such magnificences — there stood two caryatides 
in full relief, fifteen feet high, nearly 5 
metres, entirely made of full gold embroidery! 
Is it permissible to think that this was not 
perhaps very beautiful? After 1690 the royal 


throne was a much more modest affair. The 
General Inventory of Crown Furniture is satisfied 
with the following description: " A large wooden 
arm-chair, carved with several ornaments and 
silvered, to be used as a throne for the King 
when he gives audiences to ambassadors ; the 
said arm-chair done in velvet embellished with 
gold and silver embroidery." 

But what precisely are we to call a Louis XIV 
arm-chair? It must be confessed that the 
assigning of a piece of furniture or a chair to 
this style or that is often very arbitrary, but 
every classification, whether v^th regard to 
antique objects, plants or molluscs, calls for 
simplification, the ehmination of many exceptions, 
sports and hybrids, and insists that only what 
remains after these processes shall be reckoned. 
Thus, for the sake of greater convenience, among 
the seventeenth century arm-chairs it v^U be 
permissible to assign to the Louis XIII style all 
those whose backs are still low, square, or of 
greater width than height; and to the Louis 
XIV style those in which the back is higher than 
its width. But there is no very clearly marked 
distinction between the Louis XIV arm-chair and 
the Regency arm-chair, as there is a very numerous 
series of " transition " models. We shall speak 
of the latter at the end of this volume ; in the 
present chapter we shall deal only with purely 
Louis XIV seats, i.e., those with high rectangular 
back, legs en /agade^ and, in the case of arm- 
chairs with arms not set back (the ends of the 


arms carried on consoles that are vertical continu- 
ations of the legs). 

Upholstered arm-chairs have their backs com- 
pletely covered with no wood showing ; the top 
of this back is a straight line, the lower part 
is sometimes separated from the seat by a gap ^ 
and sometimes not.^ 

The legs continue in many cases, as in the 
time of Louis XIII, to be turned,^ even in 
costly chairs ; for example, on Moliere's death 
there were twenty-two arm-chairs in his house, 
among which were " twelve of twisted walnut 
with lion heads and six with sphinx faces ; two 
of walnut with twisted pillars." The latter two, 
more sumptuous, and matching the bed of state, 
were of carved and gilded wood. The legs, 
either moulded or carved, are sometimes baluster- 
shaped,^ sometimes pedestal-shaped, very often 
console-shape ; ^ they end in flattened balls, some- 
times carved,^ or in lion feet ; or else the lower 
scroll tip of the console rests directly on the 
ground, with a little cube of plain wood inter- 
posed to take hard wear and knocks/ or, again, 
the consoles have one base squared and moulded, 
from which the stretcher cross-pieces start, and 
under this a second base of the same kind, as in 
the excellent model shown in Fig. 32, so un- 
happily covered in one of those hideous needle- 

1 Figs. 28, 30, etc. 4 Figs. 31 and 38. 

2 Figs. 32, 36, etc. 5 Figs. 32 and 33. 

3 Figs. 28, 29, 35. 6 Figs. 29 and 30. 

7 Fig. 33. 


work tapestries made by our grandmothers under 
the Second Empire. 

The stretcher is a sine qua non. Arm-chairs 
and backed chairs were so big and so heavy that 
their legs would have been dislocated or speedily 
broken if they had not been solidly joined 
together at the foot. At the beginning of the 
period, and when arm-chairs had turned legs, the 
cross bars were shaped like an H,^ and the place 
where they were morticed into the legs was left 
square for greater strength ; this part often had 
a four-leaved rosette carved into it.^ Sometimes 
there is an additional traverse joining the two 
front legs near the top ; this gives greater firm- 
ness to the frame of the chair, but is above all 
decorative. If it was ornamented in the middle 
with a carved motive,^ upholsterers gave it the 
name of a hlason. Console legs might also have 
an H-shaped stretcher ; each of the cross bars is, 
in that case, made of two consoles set end to end 
which, slightly simplified, give the accolade^ 
or bracket motive frequently employed. The 
X-shaped stretcher is more elegant, freer, less 
square in shape ; it can be of immense importance 
decoratively, as in the case of tables. There are 
two principal types ; either four consoles are 
joined head to head to make a large central 
motive, 5 sometimes a very clumsy one, or else 
perhaps the moulded cross-pieces form, to the 

1 Figs. 28, 30, etc. 3 Fig. 29. 

2 Fig. 30. 4 Figs. 34 and 36. 

5 Fig. 31. 


right and the left, two of the motives we have 
called cintres a ressaut^ and naet with so fre- 
quently on the panels of cupboards. These 
come together tangentially at the deepest part of 
the curve, and are completed by a central boss 
at the point where they meet.^ 

The frieze of the Louis XIV arm-chair is 
nearly always hidden by the upholstery, but 
sometimes the wood is left visible and decorated 
with a carved campane or scalloped motive. 

The arms or accotoirs are usually of bare 
wood, nevertheless the stuffed manchette^ which 
was to become general in the Regency period, 
made its appearance at the end of the eighteenth 
century. They are supported by straight up- 
rights, sometimes turned balusters ; ^ or, prefer- 
ably, they are moulded and curved to console 
shape : hence the name consoles d^ accotoirs ^ 
given by upholsterers to these supports. The 
volute that invariably terminates the arm is part 
of it and not of the console, though certain 
arm-chairs,'* thanks to a trick of the moulding, 
suggest the opposite effect. The appearance of 
these great wooden arms is not happy when they 
are too horizontal, and when their volute is not 
sufficiently developed ; ^ but they can be magnifi- 
cent if they start high, have a free sweeping curve, 
and at the extremities expand into a wide volute 
generously carved out of a solid piece, and if their 

1 Fig. 32. 3 Figs. 30, 31 and 32. 

2 Figs. 29 and 35. 4 Fig. 28. 

5 Fig. 29. 


moulding has been carefully designed and is in 
harmony with that of the console.^ It is by no 
means uncommon to find examples that are 
admirably successful, and it is a genuine sensuous 
delight to run the hand over those ample 
mouldings, carried out with a firm and caressing 
tool, in walnut that has been polished by the wear 
of two hundred years. Not the least beautiful 
arm-chairs are those that have no other adornment 
than this refined moulding. 

Simpler arm-chairs, made for the use of the 
modest middle classes, copy those we have just 
been describing in their general lines, but they 
are without carving or mouldings, and have all 
their " limbs " simply rounded. Very strong and 
solid, they have survived in considerable numbers 
two centuries of wear and of changing fashions, 
and are found nearly everywhere. In certain 
provincial parts they were called " crow's beak " 
chairs, or simply " crow chairs" {chaises a bee 
de cor bin or a cor bin) on account of the hooked 
shape of the end of their arms, an approximate 
copy of the volute.^ These arm-chairs are by 
many dealers quite incorrectly called "Louis 
XIII arm-chairs " ; they are pure Louis XIV 
and were often made in the middle of the 
eighteenth century. We shall see elsewhere that- 
many of them display the characteristics of the 
Regency period. 

The bergere seems only to have received its 
name in the early years of the personal reign of 
I Fig. 32. 2 Fig. 36. 


Louis XV, but it had long been in existence. 
The arm-chair of Fig. 33 is witness to this. 
Very embracing, very fully upholstered, more 
comfortable indeed than elegant, with its ears, 
its solid sides {joues pleines), and its movable 
cushion, this lumpish seat is like a badly reduced 
sketch of a " confessional " bergere. Under 
Louis XIV this was called a " confessional." The 
earliest examples had been actually made so that 
priests might listen in comfort to the sins of the 
faithful ; the ears in that case were not stuffed ; 
they were pierced with a kind of Judas hole or 

In reality the seat in question is only a very 
simple example of the faiiteuil de commodite^ 
which existed under other names ever since the 
sixteenth century for the convenience of old men, 
invalids, and languid ladies. Here is Furetiere's 
definition : '' We give the name of chaise de 
commodite to a well-stuffed chair, with a desk 
for reading and writing, and a ratchet to raise or 
lower the back at will, in which one can sleep 
or recline." Let us continue his description ; 
two jointed arms, fixed in the desk, carried 
candles ; large pockets allowed the invalid to 
have small articles within his reach; some had 
screens, and others, a tHmperiale^ had a dome 
and curtains. 

Let us observe, to make an end of upholstered 
arm-chairs, the re-appearance of the low-backed 
arm-chair towards the end of the century in the 
shape of thtfauteuil a cceffer (arm-chair for hair- 


dressing). The Duchesse de Bourgogne had one 
of this kind, covered in red damask " with velvet 
let in " ; and we may note that the ancient 
caquetoire or " gossip " is always in favour. This 
was a little chair on low legs, easy to move about, 
for goenping, and highly appreciated by the 
ladies. A contemporary dictionary defined it as 
'' a very low chair, with very high back and no 
arms, in which one can chatter at one's ease by 
the chimney-corner.'' But there were also 
caquetoires with arms, and demi-caquetoireSy 
which were arm-chairs a little lower in the seat 
than usual. 

There is but little to say of the backed chairs 
without arms, which came after the chaises ii 
vertugadin or '' farthingale chairs " of the early 
part of the century. Less common than the 
arm-chairs, they differed only in being without 
arms, their dimensions were much the same, the 
same back, the same legs, the same stretchers.' 

One important invention of the upholsterers 

under Louis XIV was the sofa, which is, to say 

the truth, merely a rejuvenation of the bench, 

which had had so long and honourable a career 

in the middle ages. What Vadius was it 

who suggested to the master-upholsterer who 

" launched " the earliest sofas that goodly name 

canape^ so nobly drawn from the Greek — and 

mutilated in the process ? Properly speaking, 

a canape^ or rather conopie^ should be a bed with 

a mosquito netting. It may therefore be pre- 

I Figs 34, 37 and 38. 



sumed that the first canape was a rest-bed, a 
piece of furniture meant for lying on and not 
sitting ; and in fact, to speak by the book, a 
ceitain Monconys wrote in 1663 in his Voyages : 
"two canapes^ these are forms with a back at 
each end." Now a form is a bench ; and a bench 
with a back at each end is a rest-bed. An in- 
ventory of the time describes "a canape^ the 
wooden frame fitted with a mattress, and a wool 
mattress, with a feather bolster on top." In 
another we read, "a rest-bed en canape^ made 
up of two mattresses, two bolsters, two loose 
cushions and bed cover, to which are attached 
three valances." Some little time later, towards 
1680, the word sopha made its appearance in the 
language, and seems to signify the same thing as 
the word canape ; it is useless to try to establish 
any distinction whatever between them. Origin- 
ally then, it was a rest-bed with two dossiers, 
and presently there were three ; and even before 
the earliest dawn of the Regency style we see 
veritable canapes in the modern sense of the 
word, that is to say, in short, very large arm- 
chairs for several persons, with a back and two 
arms. Furetiere, in 1690, gives this definition : 
" a kind of backed chair, very wide, in which two 
persons can sit very comfortably. . . . The 
word is new to the language, and some say 
sopha^ Henceforward the canape or sopha, 
with arm-chairs to match, composes the classic 
suite of seats that has grown indissolubly wedded 
to the idea of a drawing-room. Thus, that 


dainty person, Nicolas Boileau Despreaux, had in 
his chamber " a small sofa and two arm-chairs of 
gilded wood, fitted in leather, and covered with 
a silk stuff with silver flowers." Leather covered 
sofas were to be seen in nearly every billiard 
room. It is quite as superfluous for us to dwell 
upon the sofas as on the chairs of the period ; 
their construction, like their decoration, is the 
same as that of the arm-chairs ; many of them 
have, with their eight legs, the air of three arm- 
chairs joined in one. They were furnished with 
a movable mattress more frequently than with 
a nailed-on upholstered seat ; but many of them 
have had their upholstery altered in the course 
of the centuries. 

The banquette^ which continues also to be 
called a '' form," as in the fourteenth century, is 
a " bench of no great consequence placed in ante- 
chambers, porches, etc. " ; it is also a seat easy 
to move about, and useful as enabling a large 
number of persons to sit down in a small space. 
It was therefore constantly used ^ for fetes, balls, 
concerts, and the like. The Versailles apartments 
were sometimes filled with them, and some were 
very costly and luxurious, gilded, stuffed with hair, 
and covered with the most valuable materials. 

The bancelle might have a back and arms ; 
most probably a very low back. Bancelles — far 
from handy to move, these particular Ones ! — 
figured among the prodigious solid silver furni- 
ture set the King kept at Versailles. One of them, 

I Bench seats could already be hired for this service. 


standing on eight pillar legs, weighed no less than 
1,025 marcs 5 ounces, or 251 kilogrammes — a 
quarter of a ton of precious metal. 

The placet or tabouret was a square-topped 
stool (occasionally round or oval), mounted on 
four legs, sometimes on X-shaped legs, stuffed 
(which distinguished it from the all-wooden 
escabeau), and, it might be, covered with tapestry 
or the finest stuffs, just as its frame might be of 
the costliest workmanship. At Versailles and 
Marly and Fontainebleau there were admirable 
examples, and no wonder, when they were so 
passionately sought after by Duchesses. And we 
have seen four tabourets at the Doucet sale in 
19 1 2, covered simply in plain velvet, fetch the 
wild figure of 28,500 francs. 

We shall doubtless have exhausted the catalogue 
of seats when we have said a few words about 
folding stools, pliants or ployants. These too 
could be of rare magnificence — there were some 
at Versailles made of solid silver — and they were 
frequently more complicated than might be 
readily imagined. Some had a rigid frame, webbed 
and stuffed with hair like a fixed seat, others had 
arms and a back. One variety of folding chair 
was the perroqiiet or parrot, " a kind of chair 
with a back," says Furetiere, ''that folds, and 
which is generally used at the table." At a time 
when there were no dining-rooms, it was natural 
that for their meals people should have chairs 
easy to bring to table and to put away afterwards. 
Saint-Simon informs us that terroquets were 


also used to increase the number of possible 
places in a carriage. 

We must not forget the carreaux^ or more or 
less flat cushions, stuffed with horsehair or with 
down, which very often served as seats, when 
strict etiquette allowed you neither arm-chair 
nor chair nor folding-stool, or simply when all 
of them were lacking. A carreau planted on 
the floor was taken without ceremony for a seat 
*'in the Spanish fashion"; or else several were 
piled on top of one another, a tottering edifice 
whose instability in those days, when rather coarse 
jesting was in fashion in every circle, lent itself 
to facetiousness of the most questionable taste. 
The Duchesse de Valentinois, as the amiable 
Madame de Villedieu tells us, had a "rocaille 
room adjoining her summer apartments, which 
was without a doubt the most delightful place 
in the world. It had no other furniture but 
piles of carreaux in gold cloth.'' Could we not 
almost imagine she was describing a little ultra- 
modern drawing-room in the twentieth century ? 

How were these various seats covered ? With 
the same stuff or embroideries as the beds, if 
they formed part of the furniture set of a chamber 
such as we have described. In that case the seats 
were looked on as accessories to the bed ; very 
often too a seat or a group of seats had its own 
private attire, without any relation, either in 
colour or material, to the other furniture. As 
they were constantly protected by means of loose 
covers of serge, or, in elegant interiors, of taffeta, 


morocco, even velvet or damask, and seeing that 
they were only "uncovered" — ^the regulation 
phrase — on rare occasions, people did not hesitate 
to dress them in the most delicate stuffs, of the 
most easily fading hues : gold brocade, white 
Chinese satin, yellow damask, flesh-coloured 
moire, aurora Genoa velvet with silver ground — 
we should have to enumerate afresh the whole 
catalogue of splendid stuffs on which the subjects 
of the Sun-King doted. 

Sometimes one material only is used for a seat, 
sometimes two different silks are set side by side 
in stripes, or in compartments, in the same way 
as for the hangings of beds and walls ; in this 
case the seams are covered with braiding of gold 
or silver or silk outlining the compartments ; the 
same braid hides the little nails that fasten the 
stuff to the wooden frame, and is itself fastened 
down with large gilt or silvered decorative nails. 
The dress of the seat is often finished off with a 
long fringe of silk or wool running round the 
frieze and the lower edge of the back, when it is 
separated from the seat,^ and by a frangeon or 
molet, an edging fringe the threads of which are 
too short to hang down. A further fringe in 
gold or silver might be placed above this. It is 
easy to recognise chairs that were meant to have 
a fringe, for just above the legs there is a plain 
strip of wood, almost left in the rough, so to say, 
underneath which the carving or mouldings 
begin ; this part was to have been hidden by 
I Fig. 3a 


the fringe, which explains why it was not 

It is obvious that all the different kinds of 
embroidery, gold or velvet, silken flowers or 
satin, pictures in " satin stitch " with figures, 
picked out in gold and silver, taillure em- 
broidery (now known as applique), etc., height- 
ened still more the beauty of the stately kind of 
seats. Others were covered with tapestry worked 
in wool and in silk on canvas in coarse or fine 
stitch ; the subjects of these tapestries were 
large flowers (Fig. 31), rinceaux or grotesques. 
Women and girls, noble and middle-class alike, 
devoted to these labours a considerable part of 
their days, and Madame de Maintenon set the 
example to her " dear girls " of Saint-Cyr. We 
know that she worked at her tapestry while at 
the King's Council; and one of her contem- 
poraries took this delicious " snapshot " of her one 
day, when he saw her setting out for a drive. 
" The lady was barely installed in her carriage, 
before the coachman had whipped up his horses, 
when she clapped her spectacles on her nose and 
pulled out the work she had in her bag." A 
point de Hongrie^ or herring-bone stitch, was 
also in high favour, sometimes used by itself to 
cover the seats, sometimes applied in strips on a 
ground of plain colour. We remember how, in 
i^Avare^ when Harpagon is unwittingly nego- 
tiating a usurious loan to his own son, he insists on 
making him take a thousand crowns in ^' hardeSy 
nippes et bijoux^^^ among which, along with the 


famous stuffed crocodile, there is '' a four-foot 
bed with stripes of herring-bone needlework very 
neatly applied on an olive-coloured material, with 
six chairs and the counterpane to match ; the 
whole in excellent condition and lined with a 
little shot red and blue taffeta." Point de 
Chine is something similar to point de Hongrie, 
but done with rounded horizontal undulations 
instead of sharp-angled chevrons, and the point 
de Turque is in vertical undulations. Boileau 
had in his cabinet an arm-chair and four chairs 
covered with tapestry in this "Turkey stitch." 

It was at the end of the reign of Louis XIV 
that the first seats appeared covered with high warp 
or low warp tapestry, specially made for the pur- 
pose at Aubusson and Felletin, or at Beauvais. 

Stuffs flocked with wool were also employed 
for this : they did not hesitate to cut up the 
finest Oriental carpets for the purpose ; and la 
Savonnerie did its share in a much better way, by 
making pieces to measure and to order from the 
designs of Audran or Belin de Fontenay. 

Seats meant for constant use were covered 
with commoner stuffs, such as moquette or tripe, 
Moquette or moquade, imported from England 
under the name of English carpeting, but which 
was also made in France, was in those days a 
hairy-surfaced stuff, knotted by hand ; in short, a 
simplified kind of Savonnerie weave. Moquette 
pied-court^ with shorter nap and smaller design — 
when there was any — than those meant for 
carpets underfoot, was used especially for covering 


seats, though it was also employed sometimes for 
ordinary hangings. For example, in the Chateau 
de Rambouillet there were, in 1706, a great 
number of arm-chairs, chairs and stools done in 
moquette, striped red, white and green, or red, 
blue and aurora ; and the arm-chairs of the 
Academie Frangaise (which, by the way, numbered 
thirty-six and not forty, as vacancies were very 
shrewdly counted upon), were modestly arrayed 
in moquette, at any rate after 1678, the date 
when the service des Batiments renovated them 
at a cost of ten livres ten sols apiece. The first 
Utrecht velvets, manufactured in Holland by 
Huguenot refugees, were called '' Utrecht mo- 
quettes," although they were genuine goats' 
hair velvet, simply because they were used in the 
same way as moquette. Tripe was a velvet of 
wool on a hemp ground, also very lasting, in 
plain colours, and made in Flanders. 

Lastly, there were common materials, known 
by the general name of etoffes de la Porte ^ 
because they were sold by the Paris gate,^ were 
used to cover the seats in small rooms used as 
clothes closets, offices, servant's rooms, and the 
rooms of the lower middle classes. They included 
the various serges of Aumale, of Mony, etc. ; the 
damas cafart^ or false damask, which in wool and 
cotton simulated silk damask, as the *' Bruges 
satin " copied the beautiful real satins as well as 
it could, and so on. 

I Or Chatelet gate, at the end of the rue Saint Denis, whence 
these cheap stufifs were also called **6toffesdc la rue Saint-Denis," 


Leather, while less in favour than in the pre- 
ceding reigns, is still met with fairly often. We 
must not confuse seats garnis de ciiir with 
those covered in leather. The former had their 
frame, both seat and back, stretched with thick 
leather instead of webbing ; on this leather were 
laid or fastened square cushions filled with hair, 
"to keep them always well puffed out," and 
covered with silks. This is how we see them set 
down in inventories and in the reports of the 
affixing of seals : " a sofa done {garni) in 
leather, covered with crimson damask." Red, 
black or lemon morocco, or black calf, were used 
to cover seats intended to take their place in the 
most sumptuous chambers, as neighbours to arm- 
chairs in Venice brocatelle or Genoa velvet ; or 
else they were covered in those gilded and 
gauffered leathers which made such magnificent 
wall coverings ; they were covered lastly with 
bull's hide martele^ or decorated with little 
stamped ornamentations, or again ecorche, incised 
and engraved ; they were covered with leather 
courtepointCy ^ to make which a felt was placed 
between two skins of leather, and the whole 
stitched or quilted after elaborate designs. 

The origin of caned seats is obscure. Among 
dealers in antiques — and the mistake has found 
its way into more than one book — the name of 
Louis XIII arm-chairs or chairs is given to caned 
seats with high backs, whose florid superabundant 
carving, and, in particular, the highly developed 

I This word is a corruption of contrcpointi. 


blason, declare their unmistakably Flemish or 
Dutch origin.^ They belong in reality to the 
Louis XIV period, and were not even imported 
into France until towards the end of the century, 
for there seems to be no mention of them in any 
authorities previous to 1690. Even the name 
for this new fashion of fitting seats was long in 
becoming fixed. In the Livre commode^ of 
1 69 1, we read : '* Turners who sell chairs garnies 
de J071C et de paille are chiefly to be found in 
the New Market.'' This certainly means chairs 
done with rattan ; do we not still call a rattan 
cane a canne de jonc ? Fifteen years later the 
inventory of the Chateau de Rambouillet records : 
" a canape de cannes {sic) " — a '' sofa of canes " ; 
and in two inventories dated in the same year, 
1722, we read in the one : " a lacquered chair of 
wild cherry wood and openwork bois de canne,''^ 
and in the other : " six chairs ^ jonc in red 
wood." The foregoing quotations tell us all 
that is necessary; they were chairs "of little 
consequence," of beechwood or wild cherry 
lacquered or dyed red ; they were made, not by 
the company of upholsterers but by that of the 
"master-turners and straw chair menders," 
which does not prevent their being made of 
good honest joinery, put together with tenons 
and mortices well and duly pinned, nor from 
being often very well carved and without any 
turning.^ Caned arm-chairs and chairs were 

1 It was the Dutch who introduced rattan into Europe. 

2 Fig. 39. 


usually fitted with cushions covered with stuff 
and tied on to the chair with cords. 

We have just seen that the turners made 
straw chairs. It seems as though these were 
hardly ever, in the first half of the century, seen 
out of kitchens or monastery cells. The ad- 
mirable picture that Philippe de Champaigne 
painted in 1662 as a thank-offering, when his 
daughter was miraculously cured of a malignant 
fever in the convent of Port-Royal des Champs, 
shows us the young nun sitting in a rude straw 
arm-chair ; another chair of the same kind is 
beside her. These chairs are of truly conventual 
simplicity ; when they came among the laity 
they were called chaises a la capiictne, but 
this did not prevent them from making their 
way into the richest interiors and in the end 
conquering a place at the Court. The sur- 
intendant Foucquet at Vaux, the marechal 
d'Humieres in his chateau, the Director General 
of Finance, Fleuriau d'Armenonville at Ram- 
bouillet, did not scorn these humble seats, which 
were in any case very comfortable when duly 
fitted with their horsehair and down cushions. 
Their wooden parts were very simply turned, and 
painted black, green, and red. There were some 
at Versailles : " six straw arm-chairs " are quoted 
in an inventory of the Crown furniture, " in 
Chinese lacquer, with cushions of red damask and 
their flounce of the same damask, with fringe 
and molet of gold and silver." Under the 
Regency Saint-Simon will write : " The princes 


and princesses had established themselves, to- 
wards the latter end of the late King, on little 
chairs with straw fittings, and without arms, in 
order to avoid offering arm-chairs, except when 
there was no way of dispensing with them . . . 
so that these little straw chairs, introduced 
under the pretext of their convenience for 
gaming or working, had in their lodgings be- 
come everybody's seats without discrimination." 
Toilet chairs, or chaises a pei^ner, were made of 

At the lowest point of the scale were the 
humble chairs all in wood, those of which 
Diderot will write in his Encyclopedia : " wooden 
chairs, such as were formerly used in middle-class 
houses, and are now, so to say, relegated to the 
garden." Here is one ' of a Norman type, which 
is not lacking in richness, and discloses an obvious 
Dutch or Flemish influence ; and here is the 
stout rustic chair 2 found everywhere in the 
Lorraine country. This model continued to be 
made by the turners of Lorraine and the Barrois 
country till well into the nineteenth century, 
but it could not have changed much for two and 
a half centuries. 

1 Fig. 41. 

2 Fig. 40. 




The so-called Regency style is hard to define, for 
it is a movement and not a stable condition of 
French decorative art ; it can be told but not 
described. Where can it be seized? At v^hat 
point of time? Under Louis XIV there was, so 
to say, a period of standing still, let us say from 
1670 to 1690, if definite dates are desired, during 
which a style, shaped in the previous decade and 
now matured, had remained consistently itself. 
There were to be again, from about 1720 to 1760, 
and later from 1770 to 1790, two similar periods 
of stability — the years of the hey-day of the 
Louis XV and the Louis XVI styles respectively. 
But from 1690 to 1720 we were in full career 
between two halting points, and changes were 
incessant. It was so towards the end of Louis 
XIV, and much more so when he had disappeared. 
A regency is in its essence a period of the pro- 
visional, a moment of waiting and transition, 
everything is unstable. This was especially true 
of the regency of Philippe d'Orleans, who "adored 
everything novel " but settled on nothing, ''in- 
capable" as he was ''of continuity or sequence 
in anything to such an extent that he could not 
even understand that such things were possible.'* 
It is impossible to draw a picture of what was 

113 H 



then the French style, unless one could manage, 
like the so-called Futurists, to represent successive 
states on the same canvas: the utmost we could 
achieve v^ould be to produce a series of snapshots. 
There is not a single line, not a motive in de- 
coration that can be called specifically " Regency " 
in style. Some are Louis XIV elements slightly 
modified or used in a nev;^ v^ay ; others are already 
Louis XV, and v^hat constitutes the Regency 
style is merely their finding themselves side by 
side (and in any case almost alw^ays with complete 
harmony), on the same piece of furniture, the 
same wainscoting, the same goldsmiths' work. 

Away from Versailles, and in a different at- 
mosphere, the Louis XIV style became modified, 
just like a plant transported to another climate. 
This air was already to be found, many years 
before 1715, in Paris, at the Palais Royal, where 
the family of Orleans lived, at the Temple, which 
was the home of the Vendomes, in coteries like 
that of the Marquise de Lambert, among powerful 
financiers who were amateurs and patrons of the 
arts, at Sceaux, where the little Duchesse de 
Maine sought to find distraction, and in many 
other free surroundings in which, aloof from and 
unknown to Louis XIV, a new spirit was de- 
veloping which was to be the spirit of the 
eighteenth century. In that century everybody 
lived only for pleasure, the pleasure of the senses, 
sometimes of the most refined sort, sometimes 
pursued in drunken swinish orgies, even by the 
grandsons and granddaughters of kings, or the 


choicest pleasure of the intellect and the social 
amenities. An easy, gay life was eagerly sought 
after, and everything in the nature of con- 
straint was loathed ; things heretofore regarded 
as sacrosanct were subject to impertinent 
criticism ; everybody delighted to be epicurean. 
Montesquieu knew this life in his youth, but 
soon broke away from it ; Voltaire knew it, and 
remained for ever after as one intoxicated by the 
dehcate delights he had tasted. " Nothing," he 
was to write later, " nothing is to be compared 
to the pleasant life there in the bosom of the arts, 
and of a tranquil, delicate voluptuousness ; people 
from foreign countries and kings even preferred 
this idleness, so agreeably occupied and so en- 
chanting, to their mother country and to their 
throne. . . . The heart softened and dissolved 
as aromatics melt gently on a slow fire and breathe 
out their souls in delicious odours." The pleasure 
of private conversation, intimate, unconstrained, 
yet carefully chosen, was felt at this moment 
with a rapture that is most strikingly shown in 
contemporary letters and memoirs. This is how, 
after many years, a frequent guest spoke of the 
dinners of Madame de Caylus, the delightful 
friend of Madame de Lambert : " She instilled 
into all her guests a joy so gentle and so keen, a 
feeling of such noble and elegant pleasure, that 
people of every age and every disposition appeared 
to be all amiable and happy alike." That is the 
perfume of the budding eighteenth century. 
In this keener, yet at the same time balmier 


and warmer air, the severe Louis XIV style 
became softened, if we may use the phrase, and 
unbent. Its stiff lines were here and there dis- 
creetly inflected and broidered with a dainty 
vegetation : trailing plants entwined about them, 
and little flowery sprays shot off from them, and 
impudent monkeys clambered on to porticos to 
hang their swings from them. 

It is easy to see that the craftsmen in stone, 
wood and metal no longer model themselves on 
the King's taste ; they have to please a very mis- 
cellaneous clientele, business folk grown wealthy, 
the contractors and the dancers whom they 
entertain, the grand seigneurs who are kind 
enough to come and enliven their mansions, all 
this set offer sacrifice to a new divinity, the 
fashion. Now the fashion is no longer for the 
stately and the heroic, but for the amiable and 
the gallant, and above everything for all that is 
convenient and agreeable. Two adjectives are 
more and more becoming stock phrases for any- 
thing pleasing, agreahle and joli. The grand 
has become exceedingly stiff and pedantic. A 
monumental Louis XIV arm-chair may be beau, 
but nobody could call it j'oli. In a drawing-room 
there is nothing agreable about walls cased in 
marbles, coldly cut out in ovals, rectangles, and 
plat-bands. What people like from this moment 
is white wainscoting with fine gilded reliefs ; they 
will have "mythologies" carved on it, and painted 
over the doors, but it will be^ Venus and 
I At the Hotel de Soubise, in the princess's state chamber. 


Adorns^ Semele and Jupiter^ Bacchus and 
Ariadne^ Diana and Endymion^ and the 
Graces presiding over the education of Love, 
Round the most beautiful salon of the period ^ 
there will run a series of the romantic scenes of 
the Loves of Psyche. 

These mythological themes were still to remain 
in favour for a long time as decorations for fine 
houses, and we know how much they were 
employed by the Coypels, La Moyne, andNatoire 
before the days of Boucher and his school — ^what 
other or what better pretext could there be for 
naked figures ? But they were no longer com- 
pletely sufficient. Something newer, something 
more amusing, more piquant, was sought for, and 
it was sought for in Asia and in the Thedtre de 
la Poire. Bedrooms and drawing-rooms re- 
mained the domain of rosy goddesses, but in the 
new style of small rooms, *' conversation cabinets,'* 
"coffee cabinets," waiting for the appearance of 
*' boudoirs," which was not to be long delayed, a 
whole little comic world suddenly took possession 
of the walls, just like the entrance of masqueraders 
in a fancy dress ball. 

We have shown how even Versailles in all its 
heroic glory had opened its doors to quantities 
of Chinese fabrics and articles. But these were 
only movable things, that would have vanished in 
a turn of the hand if the fashion had changed ; 

I The oval drawing-room in the same h6tel. The paintings 
were only finished by Natoire in 1739; but the whole decoration 
was conceived by Boffrand more than twenty years earlier. 


never till now had China been embodied in 
permanent decorations. This final seal of ap- 
probation began to be conferred from the end 
of the seventeenth century, for Monsieur had a 
Chinese room at Saint Cloud in 1690, and it was 
ratified and established in the early years of the 
next century, in which the sons of Heaven were 
to be seen finding their place even in tragedy, 
since Voltaire ventured on the Orphelin de 
Chine ^ the " Chinese Orphan " ! The very 
"cabinet du Roi," in the Chateau de la Muette, 
was a Chinese cabinet, known as " de la Chine," 
for strangely enough the adjective chinois was 
not to come into current use until the end of 
the eighteenth century. We have a series of 
engravings of this cabinet, which was by no means 
unworthy of being ascribed, as for a long time it 
was, to the great Watteau. 

The Far East was beginning to be a little 
better known, thanks to the narratives of certain 
eminent travellers, Tavernier, who had been to 
Turkey, Persia, and the Indies ; Chardin, who had 
visited India and Persia ; thanks also to those 
embassies that were so successful from the point 
of view of interest ; that from Siam, in 1686,^ and 
later, the Persian embassy, by which, if Saint- 
Simon is to be believed, the old King allowed 
himself to be hoaxed like a simple M. Jourdain. 
And so in the same way as chinois eries^ tur- 
queries and persaneries^ began to be all the 

I It is true that the Prime Minister of the King of Siam was 
called the Grand Vizier / 


fashion in literature and in the theatre. Galland 
translated the Thousand arid One Nights^ 
Dufresny points out the way to Montesquieu, 
with his Amusements serieux et comiqiies dhm 
Siamois. As for the decorators, they painted, in 
the midst of panels of fantastic architecture and 
impossible flowers, Turks of every kind, sultans 
and odalisques, muphtis with monstrous turbans, 
dervishes with long robes ; but none of them 
was much more authentically Turkish than the 
Bourgeois gentilhomme when he was made 
Mamamouchi. They painted Hindoos, but 
Hindoos that came out of the Indes Galantes, 
Persians no more Persian than Usbeck and Rica, 
and above everything and at every point they 
painted Chinese. And these Chinese brought 
with them the appropriate accessories, dragons, 
parasols, peacock feathers, towers with turned up 
roofs, humpy bridges, strange rocks, old rotted 
stumps of willow-trees, with the light showing 
through holes : motives that before long entered 
into every kind of decoration, Chinese or not, 
and mingled with the classic Louis XIV motives. 
The Chinese parasol cut in two, which frequently 
occurs in Watteau's decorative panels, probably 
was the origin of the " bat's wing" motive. 

At the same time as all these outlandish doll 
figures, the new way of decoration scattered 
broadcast almost over everything, from hand- 
screens to wainscoting, and from snuff-boxes to 
great tall many-leaved screens, that gay, exquisite 
fairy-like humanity, the dramatis tersonce that 


Watteau created with his poetic genius out of 
the elements he found in the Comedie italienne. 
The ItaHan players, who were then at the Hotel 
de Bourgogne, were brutally expelled in 1697 for 
having dared to announce a piece called La 
Fausse prude : could such a title belong to 
anything but a personal satire against Madame 
de Maintenon? But Paris loved its Italians, 
Arlequin and Scaramouche, Colombine and Silvia, 
Mezzetin, the endless serenader, and Gilles, ever 
livid, pale, and abashed. The actors of the booths 
at the fairs took up the French pieces of the 
Italian mummers, and when he became Regent, 
one of the first things Philippe d'Orleans did was 
to recall them. Gillot painted and engraved 
them from life, Watteau transfigured them and 
gave them immortality, conferring on them 
French nationality at the same time. Last of all, 
we may remind ourselves of the simian tribe and 
their frolics, already introduced by Berain into 
his grotesques. All these are the far from grave 
or stately themes with which the new decoration 
was to be inspired. 

We must go into a few details as to the 
softening and mellowing of the Louis XIV style. 
Symmetry continued to be respected, until 
Rocaille came in and wantonly turned every- 
thing topsy turvy, but it was only symmetry 
horizontally considered ; vertically there were, for 
example, hardly any regular wainscoting panels 
or doors to be seen.^ Rectangular mouldings 
I Figs. 42 and 43. 


were still employed as framings for these panels, 
but they are less important, finer, and less strong 
in relief ; and inside this frame everything was 
emancipated and softened, the right angles are 
masked by being hollowed out, or with a shell, or 
a floret motive ; the stiffness of the mouldings is 
broken up by a ribbon,^ or by an acanthus motive 
twining in a spiral about a bundle of reeds, or by 
a line of beading ; * or light motives starting out 
of the frame are embossed on the plain surface of 
the panel. ^ If a panel is arched at the top, the 
arch is divided into two C-shaped motives ending 
in a crook,* often separated by a floret, dipalmettey 
or a shell. ^ The " cintre h ressauts^^ loses its 
ressaults and becomes the continuous "hat"- 
shaped or S-shaped curve, said to have been 
invented by Cressent as far as its use on a pedi- 
ment is concerned.^ At other points this line 
becomes modified in various ways.^ The bottom 
of panels, very frequently in wainscoting, occa- 
sionally in articles of furniture,^ was bounded by 
a line composed of two S-curves set end to end.' 
A little later there was adopted, for the top of 
panels of furniture with two doors, the un- 

1 Fig. 43- 

2 Fig. 43. 

3 Fig. 43. 

4 Fig. 10. 

5 Fig. 42 (inner framing of the top panel), and Fig. 50. 

6 Fig. 47. 

7 Fig. 45 (the bottom panel), and Fig. 49. 

8 Fig. 10. 

9 This same line is found on the uppermost edge of the head 
and foot of the bed in Fig. 60. 


symmetrical shape ^ that was to be one of the 
most unvarying characteristics of the Louis XV 
style, and retained even right into the nineteenth 
century by country joiners in all the provinces. 
At the same time, the top of cupboard or side- 
board doors sometimes assumed an incurved 
shape. ^ 

The C-shaped motive, the simple '' basket- 
handle " {anse de panier) of former days, was 
modified and became the haricot motive beloved 
of the Louis XV style. We have already seen it 
making its appearance on panelling that was 
still "very Louis XIV": for instance, in the 
central rosette of the panel in Fig. i. The 
outer edge of the haricot or bean became 
denticulated, pinked, pleated, or goffered ; it is 
like that of certain shells, the murex or the 
limpet.3 This denticulation sometimes tapers 
out and curves in such a way that it becomes 
impossible to tell whether it is a wing, a flame, 
or a spaniel's tail. A lozenge pattern with a 
tiny flower or dots was always a favourite as a 
ground decoration ; ^ it obeys the law of general 
softening ; the lines defining the lozenges are 
often flattened curves, and the lozenges diminish 
towards one side. 

We have already had occasion to call attention 
to the motives taken from living creatures that 

1 Fig. 48: top of the doors of the upper part. 

2 Fig. 47. 

3 Pediment of sideboard, Fig. 48, top of doors of sideboard 
Fig. 50. 

4 Table in Fig, 59, chairs in Fi§s. 71 and 72. 


made their appearance at this moment, the 
espagnolettes of the Watteau style, found at the 
head of the legs of tables, the top corners of 
screens, in certain elaborate motives of keyhole 
escutcheons ; ^ the monkeys which are ever 
readily employed to finish off the upright sides 
of frames ; ^ the dragons which, by reason of their 
unreality and their arbitrary shape, constitute a 
priceless resource for hard pressed decorators : 
they are to be found especially in the somewhat 
lax compositions of the Rocaille style. The 
great Cressent, however, has made use of them. 
The shell motive is no less frequent than in the 
Louis XIV style, but it is elaborated, pierced, 
and modified in many ways.^ 

The acanthus leaf continues to render excellent 
service ; it is often lengthened and more indented, 
less broad than previously ; it attains the highest 
pitch of suppleness. A " feuille d'eau " (water 
leaf), as though folded double and seen in profile, 
with vaguely waved edge, and ribs strongly 
marked or replaced by grooves, serves as accom- 
paniment to the edge of the friezes of tables or 
simple chairs.'* Light flowerets scatter themselves 
almost everywhere, flowers of no definite species, 
with four or five petals ; and convolvuli go 
clambering over the mouldings. The most 

1 Fig. 54. 

2 Fig. 85. 

3 See, for instance, the three large shells pierced with holes in 
the original and charming sofa shown in Fig. 75. 

4 The same sofa of Fig. 75, on each side of the tops of the 
legs ; arm-chair, Fig. 74. 


current, the " stock " motive of the period, is 
the upright shell, from whose base start two long 
acanthus sprays.^ 

The taste for attributes goes on increasing. 
They become less heroic and more familiar : 
gardening tools, implements of pastoral life, of 
the chase and fishing, of music and other arts ; 
there are, of course, the arms and symbols of 
Love — torches, wreaths of roses, bows, arrows 
and quivers. 

As for technique, we must report the almost 
complete abandonment for a time of ebony, 
which was to recover a certain amount of favour 
under Louis XVI. The old master, Andre 
Charles Boulle, went on, however, building his 
sumptuous marquetry pieces, and his sons after 
him, for certain amateurs of austere tastes prided 
themselves on having a few specimens in their 
cabinet or collection ; ^ Boulle pieces were the 
only articles of a past style that were sought after 
throughout the whole of the eighteenth century. 
That period, indeed, was wholly innocent of 
'' antiquomania," to the greater benefit of art 
and artists ; it was far too creative to contract 
this disease. But the fashion was frankly for 
veneering and marquetry in exotic woods, with 
appliques of gilt bronze ; and particularly for 
amaranth wood, which is a winy red kind of 

1 Table, Fig. 59. Arm-chairs, Figs. 70, 73, IT, etc. 

2 This is a third meaning attached to the word "cabinet": a 
collection of curiosities and works of art. People spoke of the 


mahogany, and for violet wood, of a violet 
brov^n with well defined lighter veining. 

The bronzes of the Regency style, for example 
those of Cressent's most successful models, have 
one very great merit, the same as those of the 
Louis XV period, when the cabinet-maker did not 
let himself be drawn away into an exaggerated 
display of richness ; a merit of which the Louis 
XVI bronzes fall short, and which was only half 
attained by those on Boulle pieces. This merit 
consists in the fact that they serve some definite 
purpose ; they are not mere ornaments ; each 
one has its reason for existing, and for being just 
where it is. Let us examine one of those admir- 
able flat bureaux by Cressent, for example, the 
masterpiece now in the Louvre after long service 
at the Ministere de la Guerre. For bronzes it 
h,as a quart de rond* reinforced at the corners, 
running round the top, of great efficacy to 
protect an exposed edge from knocks ; enframing 
mouldings on the front of the drawers, which 
strengthen the joints of a part that has much 
work to do ; handles {jnains *) which are in- 
dispensable to pull out the drawers conveniently ; 
keyhole escutcheons to prevent the keys from 
damaging the wood ; large bronzes fixed to the 
inner side of the permanent frame of the drawers 
on each side; they soften an arris that might 
endanger the legs of the person seated at the 
bureau ; at the top of each leg there is an 
espagnolette^ forming a chute or drop, and pro- 
tecting the most projecting part of the legs ; a 


fine fillet running the whole length of the arrises 
of the legs, to keep the veneer from being ripped 
off just where it runs most danger, since the 
films of thin wood meet there at an angle ; and 
lastly, chaussons or sabots^ casings covering the 
extremities of the legs, and fulfilling this same 
purpose of protection. 

More carving is to be seen on modest furni- 
ture: the copious moulding of the Louis XIII 
and Louis XIV styles, so well calculated to 
accentuate the great straight lines, is hardly 
attractive now, and no longer seems sufficient 
decoration for a cupboard or a buffet to which a 
certain finish has been given. 

It remains for us to review briefly, with 
comments on our illustrations, the different items 
of furniture, such as were made for simple 
business people, perhaps already for well-to-do 
country folk, in what we have allowed to pass 
as the " Regency period " ; but we have no 
hesitation in repeating once again that any clas- 
sifications into the Louis XIV style, the Regency 
style, the Louis XV style, are purely arbitrary and 
in no way correspond with an exact chronology. 
We are fully persuaded, for example, that nearly 
all, if not all, of the panelled furniture reproduced 
in this volume, which may legitimately be 
labelled "Regency" for its hybrid style, was 
made after 1723 by provincial joiners who never 
followed at the heels of fashion. 


Cupboards still continued to show the majesty 
and the calm lines of the Louis XIV style ; their 
vertical arrises were rounded off ; ^ the cornice 
was straight, less important, sometimes already 
en chapeau ; vertical symmetry had disappeared, 
and the bottom frequently displayed lines that 
were frankly Louis XV: the lower traverse in 
front was heavily festooned in a complicated 
design, and the feet are 'Moe's feet" {pied de 
biche).^ This is an error in taste; by true rules 
— and the rule here is simply logic — the upper 
parts of a monument, for these are veritable 
monuments, should be lighter, airier, so to say, 
than the base, and may be less simple ; here it is 
the contrary, and these curved and elegant feet 
are somewhat slender to support such a mass, or 
at any rate they convey that impression to the 
eye. This goes some way to spoil the superb 
cupboard from Provence, seen in Fig. 44, the 
doors of which are carried out to perfection, with 
their fine carvings setting off so well the handsome 
outline of the plain panels. The Lorraine cup- 
board of Fig. 46, fairly rustic in character, has 
something harsh and angular about it, which is, 
if one may say so, racy of the soil. 

Let us note that the whole fagade of certain 
large furniture was carved, doubtless in imitation 
of the fagades of commodes. This is a strange 
refinement in the case of modest pieces,* for it 

1 Figs. 44 and 46. 

2 Figs. 44 and 46. 

3 Fig. 47. 


greatly increases the difficulty of the work and 
the quantity of material needed; but in the 
eighteenth century both craftsmanship and 
materials were cheap ! Dresser-sideboards made 
their appearance in the provinces, for the bright 
colours and great decorative value of earthenware, 
which was then being manufactured in abundance, 
speedily inspired the desire to display it when 
not in actual use. The handsomest are to be 
found in the east of France : tall, wide — often 
much wider than their height — elaborate, very 
convenient, they combine in one highly archi- 
tectural simple piece the cupboard, the commode, 
and the set of shelves.^ In the western provinces 
they are narrower, simpler, with a rather shabby 
upper part,^ but always very useful to give a 
country dining-room the gaiety we delight in, 
and also, be it said, to satisfy our mania for 
display. Have we not, indeed, demonstrated that 
where porcelain is concerned this mania was at 
least as great two centuries ago as it is to-day ? 

The coffer ends its once glorious career 
obscurely in the depths of the country districts. 
Even the country people themselves began to 
discard it more and more, and the latest examples 
are nearly always without decoration.^ And yet 
there are still a few interesting ones to be found 
in Brittany and the Vosges, which are strongly 
marked with the characteristics of the period. 

1 Fig. 49. 

2 Fig. 50. 

3 Figs. 52 and 53- 


The commode was given a new shape, which 
in a slightly improved version was to continue 
until the coming of the Louis XVI style ; this 
was the shape known as " the Regency." ^ Let 
us note, by the way, that it was at this period that 
names began to be given to the various varieties 
of furniture : a proof that these varieties were 
becoming numerous, and also that furniture had 
entered the realms of fashion. Thus, there appear 
for a moment certain sub-species, commodes a la 
Chartres^ a la Bagnolet^ a la Charolais^ 
and others besides. The Regency commode is 
massive and bulging, its lines are heavy, its 
rotundities are excessive ; the Louis .XV period 
will correct this and bring it to perfection. 
Under the marble top, a first stage of one or two 
drawers has a concave fagade, the middle stage is 
strongly convex, the lower part is curved back, 
which gives the whole a " doe's foot " (j)ied de 
hiche) outline, but with an exaggerated pro- 
jection of its convex curve, which is also placed 
too low down. The sides show the same swelling 
line : to be completely truthful, it is ugly. The 
design is not so contorted in plane as in profile ; 
the fagade is slightly rounded. The bronzes 
are rich and appropriately abundant. These 
commodes all have the air of having been made 
for the profiteers of the rue Quincampoix. How 
much more elegant are those which were satisfied 
with a plain vertical front, slightly curved, and 

I Fig. 54. 


perpendicular sides ! ^ The one here reproduced 
has bronzes that are frankly "rocaille," but the 
handles, which now are fixed and no longer 
hanging, still have a certain symmetry. It is to 
be observed that commodes of this period show 
their division into stages very clearly marked 
(often by a heavy horizontal groove lined with 
brass), a thing that is too often lacking in 'the 
periods that follow. 

Clocks may well figure here, with panelled 
furniture, for at the end of the seventeenth 
century they became real pieces of furniture. 
The invention of the pendulum by Huyghens, 
about the middle of the century, had brought 
about an enormous increase in the numbers of 
clocks by making them infinitely more accurate. 
Small table clocks had disappeared, because people 
began to carry watches, and religieuses^ or clocks 
meant to be fixed against the wall, had taken 
their place. These had a short pendulum and 
a spring, in which case they were set on a 
bracket or a pedestal against the wall, or had 
weights, in which case they were carried on a 
little shelf pierced with holes to let the cords 
run through. When the long pedulum became 
common, it needed protection as well as the 
weights, and so the box containing the works and 
the pedestal that carried it were united : the 
tall clock was born and very soon became common ; 
it was, and still is, when it has not been sold to 
some antique dealer and replaced by the horrible 
I Fig. 55. 


American or German alarm clock, the modest 
luxury of the homes of our peasants. Among all 
the objects that surround it the clock is the only- 
one endowed with movement, and, in a sort, with 
life ; and a deep instinct impelled the first 
makers of these tall cased clocks to make that life 
as manifest as possible. Hence the window that 
allo;vs us to see the solemn swinging to-and-fro 
of the great pendulum with its disc of shining 
brass. The cases of Louis XIV and Regency 
clocks generally have vertical sides, but are some- 
times given a more elegant and expressive shape, 
outlining the figure traced in space by the 
movement of the pendulum. The case most 
frequently terminates above in an arched pedi- 
ment, sometimes flanked by two little vases or 
spike ornaments in brass.^ 

At the end of the reign of Louis XIV tables 
became lighter and simpler, in obedience to the 
general tendency to make everything that has no 
imperative reason for being big and heavy 
smaller and easy to handle. Florentine stone- 
work is out of fashion, and for costly drawing- 
room tables people prefer a top of one single 
slab of fine marble, portor, Aleppo breccia, Antin 
marble. Wall consoles retain their elaborate 
structure ; they must have extremely rich orna- 
mentation, because they are placed at the foot of 
a pier glass, and under the panel of a reflecting 
mirror they must needs play the part of a 
cul-de-larnpe^ or tail piece answering to the 

I Figs. 56 and 57. 


painted or carved ornamentation above the 
mirror. But tables to stand out in the room, 
even when they are of great size, no longer have 

No more '* twisted legs " ; turnery is despised. 
No more pedestal legs ; the straight line is 
beginning to be a bore. Console legs become 
simpler and similar to pieds de hiche^ which 
themselves assume more slender, more elegant 
lines. Until the Louis XVI style did away with 
this elegant shape, it was indiscriminately known 
as console leg or doe's foot leg. These table 
legs, and the same applies to the legs of chairs, 
are set obliquely and not en fagade ; to speak 
more accurately — the reader will kindly excuse 
these pedantic phrases — their median plane is 
oblique with reference to that of the fagade, 
instead of being at right angles to it. Let us for 
the sake of simplicity call them " oblique legs." 
Their lines join up with those of the frieze by an 
unbroken moulding, liht pied de biche/msltdid 
of ending with the shape of a cloven hoof, begins 
to be terminated by a little volute, a last memory 
of the console, standing on a cube, and with an 
acanthus leaf springing up from it. The chute^ 
or drop at the top of the leg, is a palmette or a 
shell, from which starts a leaf, an acanthus floret, 
or a plaited motive. The contour of the frieze 
is more or less shaped with S-curves alternating 
with C-curves. The two little tables reproduced 
here ^ are, in sum, completely Louis XV in their 
I Figs. 58 and 59. 

BEDS 133 

lines, and still Louis XIV by their carved 

The state bed still continued its existence, like 
the love of costly stuffs, but it is a kind of 
sumptuousness that is drawing near its end. 
Henceforth there are a salon or two — the great 
drawing-room and the salon de compagnie, 
which is smaller and more intimate — or even 
more, for the reception of guests, and a dining- 
room, so that no one is impelled by vanity to 
spend enormous sums on a bed. As rooms are 
now smaller, less open to the winds and better 
heated, it is no longer essential that the bed should 
be hermetically enclosed. And so, little by little, 
it ceased to be a four-poster, first in Paris and 
later at Versailles, where the sovereigns had bed- 
chambers that were truly arctic. It was not 
until 1743 that Marie Leczinska had a " duchess "- 
shaped summer bed — we know this from the 
Due de Luynes, who would never have left such 
a change unrecorded in his diary — and in winter 
she continued to sleep in a four-poster. The 
bed in the King's chamber remained a four- 
poster until the Revolution. The general adop- 
tion of the duchess-bed and the angel-bed brings 
about the reappearance of beds with the wood 
showing, which sometimes have head and foot 
boards of the same height ; ^ but as a rule the 
angel-bed has the foot-board lower than the 
head. These beds with the wood showing are 

I Fig. 60. The sunk lozenge on the cartouche above the 
dossier is the macU^ the chief emblem in the arms of the Rohans, 


in any case very rare, and other kinds have not 
been preserved. Ahogether, hardly any beds of 
the Regency period have come down to us. 

It is quite different v^ith regard to chairs, 
which are still very numerous. We are given the 
impression that Louis XIV chairs and arm-chairs 
suddenly, almost over-night, were regarded as 
old rubbish and replaced, so to speak, in a lump, 
more quickly than other furniture, because they 
were less costly and were more directly connected 
with the desire for comfort then becoming 
general. It was with them as with the tables, 
they became smaller, lighter, easier to move 
about, and, above all, more comfortable. The 
study of arm-chairs gives us the most complete 
scale of intermediate shades between the pure 
Louis XIV style and that of Louis XV. At one 
end is the great arm-chair, immovable or nearly 
so, rectilinear, geometrical, curling up its volutes 
with all the emphatic rhetoric of a Flechier 
rolling out his periods, and seeming to say to 
you : '*Go your ways, you that are neither Duke 
nor Peer ! " and at the other end of the scale the 
little Louis XV cabriolet chair, wholly inviting, 
all in supple elusive lines, the back snugly em- 
bracing your shoulders, its wood everywhere 
visible, made to be moved with one hand without 
interrupting the conversation ; between these 
two is every imaginable hybrid shape. 

Here is one,^ which with everything else in 
the style has a back slightly lower and with a 
I Fig.,6l. 


tendency to be " hat "-shaped ; here one^ with 
the volutes of the arms atrophied, and another 
with none at all ; here are the manchettes 
(pads) 3 to soften the hardness of the arms ; and 
here ^ is a great change, on which we may pause 
for a moment, the first arms set back on the seat. 
In 1717 there arrived, from England, it is said, 
the fashion of panniers. " These panniers are a 
frame of whalebone, or sometimes of wicker, 
covered with linen and put by women under their 
skirts, and by men in their coat-skirts, to keep 
them stiff and standing out. The machine is 
considerably developed at each side of the wearer, 
bat very little at front and back, so that a lady 
with her slender waist and huge panniers looks 
like a washerwoman's paddle." The poor women 
bundled up with this were never able to find 
room in an arm-chair ; so they were perforce 
reduced to chairs, as their great-great-grand- 
mothers had been by their farthingales. A 
gallant upholsterer of an ingenious turn devised 
the remedy : he set back the consoles of the arms, 
and the panniers could spread themselves at their 
own sweet will on the front of the chairs. This 
other arm-chair'^ displays an ornamented band 
fitted on to its frieze (hence the disappearance of 
fringes), and the sides of the seat curve inwards. 
This one is still further advanced in evolution, 

1 Fig. 62. 

2 Fig. 69. 

3 Fig. 65. 

4 Fig. 62. 

5 Fig. 65. 


with its obliquely set doe's foot legs, and the 
frieze itself covered with carving ; these others ^ 
have boldly discarded stretchers, and yet the first 
one has not yet arrived at set-back arms, and 
neither of them has arm pads. If chairs are now 
able to dispense with stretchers, it is because they 
are less heavy and glide easily over wooden floors 
and carpets, while heretofore their feet were 
continually catching on the rough squares of 
stone pavements. Lastly, here is a chair ^ with 
its back showing the wood, and all curved at the 
top, and corners almost turned up Chinese 
fashion. The characteristic of the Louis XIV 
style that persists longest was the rectilinear sides 
of the back ; we may say that when an arm-chair 
or a chair has a fiddle back, i,e.^ with uprights 
bending in towards the centre line, it is no longer 
Regency but frankly Louis XV. 

Besides the great '' confessional ^' chair with 
ears and solid sides,^ which still continues to exist, 
there gradually takes shape the bergere type. 
Here is one (Fig. 74) which is interesting in that 
it clearly shows the new taste for clearly defined 
outlines in visible wood. Sofas {canapes or 
sophas\ which were rare in the preceding 
period, become common ; from their original 
prototype, the rest-bed with two ends, definitely 
emerges the sofa, which is a very wide arm-chair, 
or rather, something like an amalgamation of 

1 Figs. 69 and 70. 

2 Fig. 72. 

3 Fig. 73- 


three arm-chairs, which are still easily to be 
traced in it at this period.^ 

Cane chairs were in high favour, as is proved by 
the surprising numbers that still survive. In 
summer these light, cool chairs were left bare, or 
were simply fitted with a flat '^ carreau," or 
squab cushion. What shows that they were all 
meant to have this is the little cube-shaped 
piece of wood left uncarved at the lower end of 
the arm consoles ; the cushion was notched at 
the front corners, and kept in place by ribbons 
tied so as to hide this rough place. When 
winter came a complete upholstery set was 
slipped over the chair like a loose coyer, or else 
a iiecond cushion was tied on to the back with 
ribbons. In spite of their humble materials, for 
they are made of beechwood, painted or plain, 
they sometimes show very delicate carving,^ 
especially on the backs. The cane sofa, of which 
a photograph is given,^ is of an uncommon type. 
It has an unusually elegant basket motive repeated 
three times on the back. The two chairs in 
Figs. 79 and 81 indicate the limits within which 
the curve of the pied de hiclie might vary. The 
happy choice of this curve, the proportions of 
the various parts, the skilful harmonising of the 
carved motives to the masses they decorate, make 
excellent examples of joiners' work of the legs of 
the quite simple bench shown in Fig. 83. 

1 Figs 75 and 76. 

2 Fig. 78. 

3 Fig- 76. 


Taken all in all, Regency furniture is much 
more capable of pleasing us, and is much better 
adapted to our modern homes than that of the 
Louis XIV style. The reason is that towards 
1720 the great transformation had been very 
nearly completed, the change that was to make 
our forefathers' way of living very different from 
that of the preceding generation, and on the 
whole so similar to our own. 

Louis XIV furniture was made to satisfy the 
very pronounced taste for show of people who 
were nevertheless still crude, and had no notion 
or need of the comfort that has become so 
essential in our eyes. Everything else was sac- 
rificed to a magnificent and sumptuous exterior. 
While it is not at all a chimerical project, given 
taste, patience and the proper financial means, 
to re-establish a country house or a small chateau 
built under Louis XV or Louis XVI in its original 
condition, and live in it very pleasantly both 
summer and winter, who could ever dream of 
reconstituting accurately an interior of the days 
of Louis XIV ? It would be uninhabitable. 

How then can we find a use for furniture of 
this style ? It is almost an impossible task as far 
as flats in Paris are concerned: it is too huge 
in dimensions and its aspect far too lacking in 
intimacy. But for certain purposes, in a large 
country house, it would be without a rival. Above 
all, we should take advantage of its high decorative 
value, the happy way it " peoples " big spaces, 
and how its lines harmonise with those of large 


and simple architecture. Nothing could be more 
at home in the porch of an unpretentious chateau 
than one of those immense cupboards of dark 
walnut with rich mouldings, whose fine lights 
alternate with the deepest of shadows ; or than 
a marble-topped table, solidly fixed upon its four 
baluster legs, with their cross-pieces by way of 
stretcher, and a number of arm-chairs with tall 
rectangular backs, all drawn up by the wall like 
lifeguardsmen on parade. But for heaven's sake 
let no one have them covered with bits of old 
Flanders verdure, which were never made for such 
a fate ! 

A large salon furnished in the Louis XIV 
manner — without the state-bed, of course ! — 
would be a pretty difificult thing to achieve, 
though very interesting, since it would have to 
be completely in keeping. These articles of 
furniture are of a nature that will not accom- 
modate itself to all surroundings. They agree 
very well with the Louis XIII style, for the 
Louis XIV style is, after all, only the Louis XIII 
enriched and refined, or with the Regency style, 
since it is derived from the Louis XIV by im- 
perceptible degrees. But they clash with the 
furniture of the eighteenth century : the two 
styles differ in the mere scale of size, in their 
range of colours, and in their lines. The only 
things that could keep house tolerably peacefully 
with them would be very large pieces of the 
Louis XVI style, under-cupboards or great "wall- 
pieces," certain massive tables or consoles, simply 



because the master lines in both are straight, and 
the few curves they admit are similar in each 
style ; and both alike borrow the elements of 
their ornamentation from antiquity. 

Here is an imaginary sketch of such a great 
country house drawing-room. On the walls, 
failing tapestries, which would of course be 
the ideal thing, and if they are not already 
panelled or wainscoted, there should be a quite 
simple plain hanging; for the silk stuffs of the 
seventeenth century were much too sumptuous 
to make it possible for modern imitations to 
take their place ; ^ and a decoration of wide 
bands of two glaring colours would be hard 
for modern eyes to accept. On the floor as 
many Eastern carpets as you please."^ For the 
big pieces of furniture there should be one or 
two cupboards, but preferably Louis XIII pieces 
in two parts, with a pediment ; in upholsterers' 
parlance, they "are more drawing-room " than the 
Louis XIV cupboards ; then two under-cupboards 
or two commodes, forming a pair as nearly as 
possible — we must never forget that symmetry is 
a cardinal law of the style. Tables dating from 
the end of the seventeenth century, with pedestal 
or console legs, are not easily come by ; but they 
might be replaced by those tables with twisted 
legs, which may be Louis XIII style if you like, 
but which were almost all made under Louis XIV, 
or even by rectangular tables of any kind, provided 

I Unless we could get hold of crimson damask that was not 
too cafard, as our fathers used to say. 


they are hidden under those valanced covers that 
hang down to the floor and obligingly conceal 
everyth ng — even to a husband, to w^hom it is 
wished to reveal the attacks to which his wife is 
exposed, as in Tartufe, A sofa will be prac- 
tically indispensable, so let us have one of the 
Louis XIV side of the Regency style rather than 
the Louis XV end. As for the other seats, the 
bulk of them will be made up of large Louis XIV 
arm-chairs. After all, we have no perukes to 
humour, and if you lean frankly up against their 
backs you won't be at all badly seated. But you 
will, out of mere necessity, have to supplement 
them with some handier chairs. You will find 
these in turned Louis XIII chairs, or in those 
excellent caned arm-chairs and ordinary chairs of 
the Regency, which can easily be obtained, and 
which you can equip with cushions made of bits 
of old stuff. Lastly, there will be stools, benches 
with pedestal legs, and why not carreaux (floor- 
squabs) on \,]it\i porte-carreaiix^ since the young 
women and girls of to-day affect to sit on the 
ground, just as Madame 's maids of honour used 
to do, imagining that it is the last word in 
modernity ? 

As for the lighting, there must be a crystal 
chandelier ; branched sconces with mirror plaque 
make a very charming mural decoration, but 
they are rare ; and in default of those great tall 
torch candleholders of gilded wood, which are 
not precisely common objects at sales or in 
dealers' shops, you will place girandoles on 


gueridons with twisted legs. If you wish to hang 
your pictures in the true seventeenth century 
way, you must hang them flat against the wall, 
by two silk or gold-thread cords, dropping 
vertically from the cornice and relieved with one 
or two big tassels of passementerie, through which 
they will be passed. These cords might also start 
from two ringed staples, fixed in the wall about 
two feet above the top of the frame, and disguised 
under two big tassels. Lastly, all the little 
decorative odds and ends can quite correctly, as 
we have seen, be Chinese, Hindoo, or Persian, at 
your pleasure. It would be amusing — without 
going quite so far as the tinned glass houle de 
jardin — to reconstruct a chimney set of china 
ornaments, laid out on shelves or tiny gilded 
consoles: but before undertaking this you must 
think over the trouble of taking care of it all. . . . 
We will pause at this example and leave to 
our readers the pleasure of making other 
combinations ^ with those handsome, excellent 
pieces of furniture of two centuries ago — a little 
inconvenient perhaps, but such speaking witnesses 
to a period when France became, as in many 
another thing, the foremost nation of Europe in 
the art of beautifying the homes of human beings. 

I For instance, a Regency dining-room, with a big dresser- 
sideboard from Lorraine, an under-cupboard as a serving table, 
and for seats, cane chairs of painted wood or those high-backed 
chairs covered with moquctte, in stripes of three colours, which 
are to be seen in Chardin's pictures. 





FROM THE south-west OF FRANCE 

Fig. 6. 












^U _:■ 

■ ) 











Fig. 30. 



FlO. 31. 






Fio. 42. DOOR LEAF, OAK 

Fio. 43. DOOR LEAF, OAK 













Fig. 53. 













ACADEMIE Francais chairs, 

thirty-six, not forty, 105 
covered in moquette, 105 
Acanthus, the leaf as ornament, 

51, 52, 121, 123 
" Accotoirs," arms of chairs, 94 
Aleppo breccia, 1 31 
Allegorical subjects, very 

common, 49 
Amaranth wood, 124, 12$ 
Angel bed, 133 
" Anse de panier" basket handle 

curve, 48, 122 
Antin marble, 131 
Arlequin, 1 20 
Arm-chairs, 89-97 

simple, 95 
d' Armenonville, Fleuriau de, 108 
Attributes, 54, 124 
Aubusson tapestries, 104 
Audran, engraver, 13, 104 
d'Aviler, Traitc d Architecture, 

quoted, 4I 

Ballin, Claude, goldsmith, 20 

of solid silver, 99 
" Banquette," 99 
Beauvais tapestry, 104 
Beds, 72-79 

*' a haute piliers," 73 

" a rimperiale," 78 

" a quenouilles," 73, note 

Boiltau's, 76 

" disordered," 79 

duchess, 78, 133 

Moliere's, 76, 77 

Regency style, 133, sqq. 

rest, 79 
B6rain, engraver, 13, 120 
" Bergere," 95, 96 

Boffrand, Germain, decorates 

the h6tel Soubise, 25 
Boileau, his bed, 76 

his sofa, 99 
Bon Boulogne, the painter, II, 13 
"Bonnes graces," part of bed 

hangings, 74 
Bookcase, the, 68 

Boileau's, 68 
" Boucle," 49 

" Boule de jardin," 40, 142 
BouUe, Andre Charles, 18 

a great collector, 19, 20 

his collaborators, 20 

his four sons, 21 

his technique, 61, 62 

in the transition period, 124 
Branchi, 4 
Bronzes, Cressent's, 28 

in the Regency period, 125 
" Bruges satin " imitation satin. 
Buffet, 69 

" buffet-credence," 68 

" buffet-vaisselier " dresser- 
sideboard, 69 

" menager " dresser-side- 
board in Champagne, 69 

"palier" Normandy dresser- 
sideboard, 69 
Bureau, the, 85-87 

" bureau-ministre," 86 

flat-topped, 85 

ladies' bureaux, 87 

" scribannes," 86 

Cabaret, small table for serving 

coffee, etc., 84 
Cabinets, 70 

Boulle cabinets, supreme 
expression of the Louis 
XIV style, 18 
elaborate, 16, 17 




Cabinets, more austere, 17, 18 
Caffieri, Filippo, 3, 13 
" Campane," a passementerie 
motive shaped like a small 
bell, or the scalloped hanging 
round the tester of a bed. 
" Canape," definitions, 98 

derivation, 97 
Cane chairs, ^06, 107 

imported from Holland or 

Flanders, 107 
Regency styles, 1 37 
their elegance, 137 
Cane sofas, 137 
. ^-- — " Cantonnieres," part of the 
ifi hangingsof abed which served 
to close from outside the 
angle formed by the two 
curtains along the bed-post. 
"Caquetoire," gossip chair, 97 
"Carreaux," loi 
Caylus, Madame de, II5 
Chairs, Louis XIV style, 89-97 - 
" confessional " shape, 96, 

" crow's beak," 95 
"garnis de cuir," 1 06 
handier in form, 134 
Regency style, 134-137 
" Chaise de commodite," 96 
"Chaises a peigner," 1 09 
Champaigne, Piiilippe de, 

painter, 108 

Chardin, eastern traveller, 1 18 

"Chaussons," casings covering 

the extremities of legs of 

tables, etc., 126. See " Sabots " 

Chinese objects, craze for, 37, 38, 

39, 117 
decorations, 1 18, 1 19 
porcelain, 40, 41 
Chute, the ornament at the top 

of the legs or uprights of a 

piece of furniture, 50, 132 
de Cla^ny, chateau built for 

Mme. de Montespan, 22 
Clock cases, 131 
Clocks, 130 
Coffers, 69, 70, 128 

Colbert, 4, 21 

Colombine, 120 

Colour in furniture, very bright, 

Commode, 71-72 

" a la Bagnolet," 129 
" a la Charolais," 129 
" a la Chartres," 129 
*'en tombeau," ;i 
Regency shape, 129 
"Console d'accotoirs," upright 

support of chair arm, 94 
Corneille, Michel, painter, 13 
de Cotte, Robert, architect of 
the Bishop's Palace at Stras- 
bourg, 26 
Covering materials for chairs, 

etc., IOI-106 
Coypel, 117 

Coy se vox, the sculptor, 13 
Cressent, Charles, cabinet-maker, 
27-29, 121, 123, 125 
a bureau by, 125 
Cucci, Domenico, 3, 13 
Cupboards, large, 65 
" bonnetiere," 67 
from various provinces dis- 
tinguished, 67 
" garde-robes," 65, note 
Louis XIV style, 66 
Regency, 1 27 
Cushions, 106, 108 

" Damas cafart," imitation 
damask of wool and cotton, 105 

De Brienne, Lomenie, 2 

D'Effiat, the Abbe, his bed, 55, 56 

Demi-buffet, half-sideboard, .68 

Desportes, Francois, the painter, 

Diderot, quoted, 109 

" Dossier," head or foot of bed, 

etc., 78, 79 
Dresser sideboards, 1 28 
Duchess bed, 78, 133 
Dufresny, 119 

Ebony, 124 
"En facade," 132 



"Escabeau," 100 
"Espagnolettes," oraaments of 

carved wood or of gilt-chased 

bronze, representing a female 

bust, 28, 123 
" Etofifes de la Porte," common, 

cheap materials, 105 

Facades, 35 

carved, 127 
Felletin tapestry, 104 
"Feuille d'eau," 123 
" Fontanges," 34 
Fontenay, Belin de, painter, 104 
Foucquet, 4, 108 
Foulon, the cabinet-maker, 13 
Furetiere, quoted, 98, 100 
Furniture, technique of, 57-63 

Gacetti, Giovanni, 4 

"Gaine d'applique," a tall pe- 
destal placed against a wall, 
and carrying a bust, a clock, 
a branched candlestick, etc., 54 

"Galants," the, fastenings for 
bed curtains, 78 

Galland, translator of "The 
Thousand and One Nights," 

Garlands, 52 

Genoa velvet, 73, 106 

Gilding, " a la detrempe," 59 

Gilles, 120 

Gillot, the painter, lucceeds 
Berain, 25, 120 

Girandoles, 141 

Girardon, sculptor, 20 

Gobelins, the factory established 
to design and make tapestries, 
furniture, etc., etc., for Louis 
XIV, 12-21 

GoUe, Pierre, cabinet-maker, 3 
description of a cabinet by, 3 

"Gradin," 86 

Guillain, Simon, sculptor, 2 

Hardouin-Mansart, first 

architect to the King, 9 
Harmant, the cabinet-maker, 13 

" Haricot," 122 

Harpagon, in VAvare, quoted, 
103, 104 

Houasse, painter, 13 

d'Humieres, 108 

Huyghens, inventor of the pen- 
dulum, 130 

Italian players, 120 

Jacob, Georges, cabinet- 
maker, 21 

La Fontaine, 37, 38 
La Moyne, 1 17 
La Savonnerie tapestry, 104 
La Valliere, Mile, de, 7 
Lambert, Marquise de, II4 
Largilliere, the painter, II 
Le Brun, Director of the Arts to 
Louis XIV, 5 

Director of the Gobelins, 14 

his merits, 6 
Le Lorrain, Robert, 2 
Le Pautre, engraver, 13 
Leather, for chairs and sofas, 

Leclerc, engraver, 13 
Leczinska, Marie, her bed, 133 
Lespagnandelle, woodworker, 13 
Lighting, Louis XIV, 141, 142 
Loir, the goldsmith, 13 
Loose covers for cane chairs, 1 37 
Louis XIII, I 
Louis XIV, French spirit under, I 

his bedchamber described 
by La Fontaine, 37, 38 
Louis XIV style, three periods 
in, 7-10 

abuse of straight lines, 42 

changing customs and 
manners, 23 

craze for things Chinese 

curves in, 42 
favourite motives, 48-54 
furniture in modern rooms, 

modified, 116 



Louis XIV style, a "noble" 
style, 34 

ostentatious, 138 

right angles in, 43 

rise of, 14, 15 

technique, 57-63 
Luynes, Due de, 133 

Maine, Duchesse de, 114 
" Mains," drawer handles, 
Maintenon, Mme. de, lO 

goes for a drive, 103 

her bureau, 87 

her niche, 10, 56 
" Manchettes," arm-pads, 94, 135 
Mansard, 2 
Marly, 22 

Marot, Daniel, engraver. 
Marquetry in wood; 60 

other materials, 61 

the Boulle method, 61, 62 
"Mascarons," grotesque mas 

as ornaments, 50 
Mazarin, I, 2, 4, 7 
Meissonier, Juste-Aurele, 26 
" Menager," dresser-sideboard in 

Champagne, 69 
Merlin, the goldsmith, 13 
Mezzetin, 120 
Migliorini, Orazio, 4 

Ferdinando, 4 
Mignard, the painter, II 
Moliere's arm-chairs, 92 

his bed, 76, ^^ 
Monconys, quoted^ 98 
Monnoyer, 1 3 
Montespan, Mme. de, 7 
Montesquieu, 1 15 
Montigny, Philippe, cabinet- 
maker, 21 
"Moquade," 104 
"Moquette," 104 

"pied-court," 104, 105 
Mouldings, 47, 48, 121, 122 
Mythological motives, very 
common, 50, 51 

Natoire, painter, 117 
Nocret, painter, 13 

Oppenord, Gilles-Marie, 26 
d' Orleans, Philippe, Regent 

after Louis XIV's death, 24, 

II3» 120 

"Palier," Normandy dresser- 
sideboard, 69 

Panels, 44-47 

" Panniers," an English fashion, 

Parangon, " touch," black basalt, 

Pictures, to hang in the 17th 
century fashion, 142 

" Pied de biche," " doe's foot," 
cabriolet leg, 81, 127, 129, 132 

" Placet," 100 

" Pliant" or "ployant," 100 

" Point de Chine " tapestry stitch, 

" Point de Hongrie," herring- 
bone tapestry stitch, 103 

" Point de Turque," Turkish 
stitch, 104 

Poitou, Pierre, cabinet-maker, 13 

" Quart de rond," or carderon, 
a brass moulding running 
round the edge of the top of a 
table-bureau, 125 

" Quenouilles," sheaths for bed- 
posts, 74 

*' Ramasse." Ste " Roulette " 

Rambouillet, chateau de, 107, 108 

Regency style, a transition be- 
tween Louis XIV and Louis 
XV, 24, 113, s^^. 

" Religieuses," wall clocks, 130 

Rest bed, 79 

Rigaud, the painter, 11 

Rocaille, 27, 120 

"Roulette," a kind of switch- 
back ; also " Ramasse," 8 

" Ruelle," the, 75, 76 

" Sabots." See " Chaussons " 
Saint-Simon, quoted, 100, 108, 109 
Salon, a Louis XIV, 139-142 



Santerre, the painter, 1 1 

Scaramouche, 120 

Sceaux, 1 14 

Sconces, 142 

"Scribanne," large bureau of 

Dutch or Flemish origin, 86 
Seats, etiquette of, 88, 89 
" Serre-papiers," 86 
Shell as motive in ornament, 

123, 124 
Silvia, 120 
Slodtz, sculptor, 13 
Sofas, 97, 99, 136 
Sopha, 98 
"Soubassement," valance of bed, 

Soubise, hotel de, decorations, 

116, 117 
Straw chairs, 108 
Stretchers, 93 
Symmetry, passion for, 55 

Tables, 80-84 

" Consoles," 81 

Florence tables, 80 

gaming tables, 83, 84 

legs "en gaine " or "en 
balustre," 8r 

night tables, 84 

Regency tables, 131, I32 

toilet tables, 84 

writing tables, 83 
" Tabouret," 100 
Tapestries for covering, 103 
Tavernier, French traveller in 
the East, 118 

Technique under the Regency, 

"Theatre de la Foire," 1 17 
Toilet chairs, 109 
" Toilette," the, 84, 85 
Trianon, the "porcelain," 22 
"Tripe" velvet of wool on 

hemp, 105 
Trophies, 53 
Tubi, sculptor, 13 

Under cupboards, 68 
Utrecht velvet, made in Holland, 
called Utrecht moquette, 105 

Van der Meulen, 13 
Van Opstal, sculptor, 20 
Vaux-le-Vicomte, chateau and 

park, 4, 108 
Velvet, Genoa, 73, 106 

Utrecht, 105 
Veneering, 60 
"Vernis des Gobelins," a kind 

of lacquer, 63 
Versailles, the early, and its 

" diversions," 7 
de Villers, the goldsmith, 13 
Violet wood, 125 
Voltaire, quoted, 114 

"Chinese Orphan," a play 
by, 118 

Warin, sculptor, 20 
Watteau, Antoine, 25, 120 
Wooden chairs, 109